Unspoken Word
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)
September 02, 2023

We talk of falling in love,
one of our great aspirations
here on this third rock from the sun,
the jackpot in the game of life.
The phrase is a curious one.
Why falling?
Why the downward direction?
Is there gravity at the heart of love?
Ripe fruit falling to the ground?
A coin tossed in a wishing well?

All of us have fallen in love,
entered the invisible realm --
the place where the heart opens
and we are known as if for the first time.
The need to speak gone, we are heard and seen,
held and received,
celebrated for simply being who we are.
Time stops, space expands
and we enter the holy sanctuary of
this ... present ... moment.
And then?

The falling stops,
we hit the bottom and often with a thud,
the kind no one wants to talk about,
fodder for blues songs, therapists
and late-night drinks with friends.

Might there be another kind of love,
one beyond the gravity of this world,
a realm where there is no falling,
only rising,
what happens to a drop of water
on a hot day,
or a feather caught in an updraft?
All of this falling and rising,
all of this coming and going
are facets of the same precious diamond
we need to give ourselves,
betrothed to the wonder of it all.

The gift?

To feel what there is to be felt,
to see what there is to be seen,
to let go
and receive whatever is coming our way
in whatever form or formlessness,
and then, in the twilight hour,
in the space between this, that and the other thing,
when there is no "other", no object of devotion,
no one to receive our freshly picked flowers,
to open like a rose.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:35 AM | Comments (0)
August 26, 2023

You have given me everything
or should I say,
you have introduced me to everything,
it being impossible to give anything
to anyone who already has it all
(which is everyone),
or maybe I should say,
you have reflected
everything back to me,
like a mirror does,
free of dust,
revealing what already exists.

Still waters you are, my Friend,
the surface of a cool lake
high in the mountains
showing me my real face
before I dive in or drink,
parched as I've been
from all those years of wandering.

Yes, introduced me is what you have done,
like the ultimate host of a fabulous party --
you the one who greets me at the door,
bows, smiles, laughs and,
with a sweep of the hand,
invites me to enter.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:09 AM | Comments (0)
August 15, 2023
The Only Question Left for Me Tonight

The only question left for me tonight is this:
Do I write by candlelight or moonlight?
Both, you see, have their advantages.
They do.

Candlelight, softening everything in its path, evokes
lifetimes of lovers,
none of whom ever want to take their leave,
only breathe slowly into each other,
luxuriating in the moment that never ends,
nowhere to go, nothing to do,
no future, no past,
silence the manger they find themselves having entered into,
fused breath rising
like a sun inside the same shared horizon.

Ah... yes... candlelight...
a mighty fine contender, it is,
candlelight, the poet's muse,
and I haven't even yet gotten to the moon yet --
the moon,
lighting the way to monastery walls
and all those haiku years
tending plum trees
in a garden swept so clean by monks
that the Master of the Estate -
the one for whom so many traveled so far
to catch a single glance,
a smile, a turn of the head, a word.

Such liquid sweetness there is in this grand elixir of life
where only love exists,
only love, my friends, only love,
love and the second question of this poem:

"Who is it that moves my hand just so?"

A weed in the wind, it is,
bed sheets being shaken out on a far hillside,
God's mime, somehow able to see without looking,
holding his pen
as if it was a 17th century sword,
its handle so heavy
only a light heart
could lift it tonight.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:32 PM | Comments (0)
August 01, 2023

So there I am, scrolling
through my long list of Facebook friends
when I see the name of someone who died last year.
It's not like they were my best friend,
they weren't,
but they were a good friend, a pearl,
someone whose company I very much enjoyed,
someone I laughed with and listened to,
whose stories moved me
not to mention their uncried tears.

Their name is staring at me from
the cold screen of a laptop
I bought to stay in touch with people I love,
but they are gone --
gone their smile,
gone the scar above their eyebrow,
gone the curious way they turned their head.

I am not scrolling now, just looking at their name,
and then I scroll again.

Five people down,
I see another friend
no longer here to check their inbox or send me a joke.

I pause,
take a long, slow breath,
and scroll again.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)
July 22, 2023
Smiling from Within

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:57 AM | Comments (0)
July 04, 2023
All My Trials

Gorgeous cover of a classic Joan Baez song by singer/songwriter/poet Amanda Blue. Turn up the volume and let it in.

Amanda's website

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)
June 27, 2023
The Real Marriage

Today, my own best man, alone in my room,
I am going to marry myself,
love who I am until death do me part,
embracing what exists
at the core of my being,
knowing, as I do, that my soul mate lives inside me,
closer than my breath,
muse of my muse,
and has always been with me,
even when I was not,
whole until itself,
radiant, free,
snuggling, in its wrinkled pajamas,
with infinity.
This marriage of myself,
this loving the love that loves
is not a rejection of the world,
nor is it a denial of the passionate glory of loving another,
it is, quite simply,
the recognition that who and what I am
were made for each other a long time ago,
best friends, lovers,
the pauses in this poem,
not so much holding hands,
but being held
in the massive arms
of the nameless One
who animates us all.

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

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)
April 27, 2023
Prometheseus Speaks


Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:13 PM | Comments (0)
April 21, 2023
Today is the Launch of "Unspoken Word: Love, Longing & Letting Go"

Launch Day.jpeg

Dear Friends:

If you have been reading this blog for a while, there is a very good chance you will enjoy my just-published book of poetry dedicated to Prem Rawat, "Unspoken Word: Love, Longing & Letting Go."

Today is the day it launches on Amazon.

If you are thinking about buying it (or even if you're not), today is the day to buy it. Why? Because the more people who buy the book on the same day, the greater the chance the book will rank high on Amazon's NEW RELEASES list. And the higher it ranks, the more visibility the book will get. And since my vision is that millions of people read this book, visibility is a good thing.

PS: If you read the book and enjoy it, please consider writing an Amazon review -- one more way to help me get the word out there. Gracias!

Buy on Amazon
What ChatGBT says about my poetry
The website

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:27 PM | Comments (0)
April 19, 2023
You May Not Know This Man. His Name is Hank Alpert.


I first met Hank when we were 6-years old at the Willets Road Elementary School in Roslyn Heights, NY. Because our last names started with letters in the beginning of the alphabet, we were always in the same homeroom class from first grade through 12th grade.

We became best friends, went to summer camp together, were teammates on the same varsity basketball team, double-dated and, basically, enjoyed a beautiful friendship until the age of 19. Then, we drifted apart.

His life went one way. Mine went another.

Three months ago, after 56 years of no contact, I received an email from him. Retired from a successful business as he was, his kids grown up, Hank was in a process that many people go through in their 70's -- looking back at their life and trying to understand what it was all about.

At one point, in his life review, he started thinking about his childhood and the people he grew up with that left some kind of impression on him. That's when he decided to call me.

We talked for two laughter-filled hours.

A few weeks later he drove from New York City to my home in Catskill, NY. It was as if no time passed. None. For five hours, we rewound the tape of our lives and marveled, remembering sweet moments I hadn't thought about in 56 years.

Hank expressed a lot of interest in my writing and asked me to send him the pre-publication manuscript of my new book of poetry, "Unspoken Word" -- which tickled me no end, especially since we had both been in the same 10th grade English class, with Ms. Kennedy.

So I emailed it to him. He read it. What he had to say is embedded on his photo above.

PS: What childhood friend of yours might it be time to connect with?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)
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“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.

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