Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Royal Court

I enter Royal Court at 9pm. A large treasure chest balances precariously on a skateboard. It is filled with poison: half drunk bottles of vermouth, absinthe, and Japanese whiskey. My neighbor and his lady friend diligently sort through the booty. “Choose one,” they say to me.

The owner of the traveling bar appears: A skittish kid in his early 20’s with a red welt under his right eye. My neighbor hands him eight bucks for a sticky bottle of rum and the kid’s eyes light up like street lamps. “They were throwing it all away,” he says. “I rescued these bottles from a dumpster.”

A middle aged man thin like spaghetti enters the scene on a bicycle. Dirty bare feet work the pedals. “Still lugging that chest around?” He says to the kid. He comes to a halt and his eyes point to his hands. “Look what I scored!” Black gloves with metal spikes gleam from the handle bars.

“You guys like sweets?” My neighbor asks. When we nod affirmation, he disappears. Like a bunny, he reappears a moment later and hands out slices of warm bread pudding.

“Yum!” We all say and disperse into the night.

Copyright © 2016 Chaya Silberstein

Monday, August 29, 2016

Sunday Morning Devotion

Psalms on the lips of a homeless apostle,
planted on the island of a busy intersection,
his eyes are stained glass windows,
his mouth, a silent hallelujah.

A train of orange cyclists appear
and whistle, “Bonjour!”
It’s the French Rivera chugging along
this smog filled street of Los Angeles.

Mourners fill the streets of my youth
clad in black and white uniform,
lamenting the fall of a temple,
many years ago.

I walk along Main Street,
this Sunday morning
and observe the prayers around me,
I enter Rite Aide
and greet the clerk
as I buy my toiletries.

Copyright © 2016 Chaya Silberstein

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Missing You, I Went Walking

The river is lonely in my heart
as a drunkard stomps across the bridge,
ducks keep watch for prowlers
lest the unruly gets in.
music drifts from the reeds
as helicopters take down the sky,
the river is lonely in my heart,
there are no boats tonight.

Copyright © 2016 Chaya Silberstein

They Came to Us with Lies

They came to us with lies,
sewed into hems of skirts,
packed in barrels of guns,
under a white picket fence,
in a tarnished grin,
in a book bound with sweat.

They came to us with lies
while flies feasted on wine,
robed men got rich and fat,
power ate itself,
there was no humble pie.

They came to us with lies
and brought the spiders too,
disguised as something true,
we were all confused.
We drank the toxic water,
got drunk on ignorance,

they came to us with lies.

Copyright © 2016 Chaya Silberstein

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Nature of Good and Evil

Evil doesn’t exist in its own right. It is everything repressed given form. Nothing dies, it is only energy transformed. Every society has it’s archetypes, including the witch. The witch is a witch because she’s susceptible to energy and knows how to manipulate it, especially the shadows. The white witch focuses on the light and uses the power of transformation for good but the black witch takes the shadows and ingests it, lets it turn herself rotten. She is the rotten core of society. In a way she carries all the sins of the people, everything repressed and denied. So in a way you can say that repression is the greatest sin because everything forbidden that is natural to you, comes out in another form —if not in you, in someone else. This is how we are responsible for each other. Sure, self-control is important for the functioning of society and the individual human being but one must not deny what is natural to oneself but rather recognize where the desire lays and work on transforming the energy to something more appropriate. We must not judge others or show scorn for ill-gotten behaviors but rather look to ourselves to see where we are to blame. At the same time, this does not excuse someone who commits a crime who may say, “It’s societies fault, I was made this way. I picked up the twisted energy, I couldn’t help it.” Everyone has a choice. Sure, you may be more sensitive to energy and born into horrible circumstances but as long as you have a thinking, discerning mind, you have the ability to choose. Some people loose this ability. As Khalil Gibran wrote in Sand and Foam, “Crime is either another name of need or an aspect of a disease.” I’ve always wondered why sometimes the most horrendous crimes takes place in the most God fearing, righteous societies? Think of the Salem Witch Trials, Catholic priest scandals and other abuses in religious organizations. Not to oversimplify, but a small piece I now understand. Like a rubik’s cube, the energy is shifted. Human desire doesn’t just go away and it can’t be squashed either. It takes years and years of work to transform this energy into something more desirable. The desire to be free of desire is a desire in itself and hence the great paradox.

Copyright © 2016 Chaya Silberstein

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Death of Places

The death of a dress shop and a bar
are found out in one day 
from the white butcher paper in the windows 
of where I once worked. 
Rest in peace the vacant structures seem to say. 
Eyes soulless, lips unmoving, an unburied corpse,
you wouldn't know that life once existed inside.


The opening and shutting of dressing rooms. 
Lady or tigers in disguise. 
Women stuffing themselves in dresses, 
denying who they had become. 
The place I was dubbed queen of sales 
and wore a crown of dreams.


Pulsing music, downing shots of whiskey, 
getting lost between dancers, 
tray of drinks held above my head. 
The place I so desperately loved, 
the place I so desperately lived, 
the golden cage where dreams were born. 
How easy it was to fall asleep.

Copyright © 2016 Chaya Silberstein

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Mourning for the Self

Our society doesn’t talk enough about death and by death I don’t just mean the death of a loved one but rather death of the self. How many transitions and milestones have you gone through in your life that you felt you were leaving a part of yourself behind? You were sad and lonely and didn’t quite know what to expect from the future.

How may teenagers and young adults, those on the cusp of middle age, and the elderly fall prey to depression and even suicide partly because we live in a society that doesn’t know how to deal with change and transition? How many rituals do we have to celebrate these changes? What are the rituals? Are there any?

According to Rudolf Steiner, we are all of our various selves at once. We are the mother, the college student, the teenager, the child, the baby. As each stage passes, I think it is crucial to acknowledge each one and find a way to integrate everything we’ve ever been and everything we are. Otherwise we end up with a collection of puzzle pieces stored in a box somewhere, never put together.

If one is unaware that they carry all their selves with them all the time, it can be devastating when you go from one stage to the next. Imagine you are a child that is good at everything. You have Midas’ touch. As a teenager, you’re pretty successful too. As an adult you start to flay about and fail and begin to flagellate yourself. A giant hole opens within and you fall in. It is dark and grimy. Slimy monsters bite. You are diagnosed with depression. You are unaware that the hole is normal, that going from stage to stage is part of life. You watch your child-self on the other side and believe that part of you is dead. You don’t know how to mourn, so you crawl into yourself. Society says to hurry up and get moving. They don’t realize you have built a cocoon and it takes an entire season to become a butterfly.

Copyright © 2016 Chaya Silberstein