Wings of Love

Wings of Love
by Carl Josehart

Without maps to guide us
through the oft unchartered paths of life
we met on wings of love
before our hearts had learned to fly

exhilarated by the thrill of flight
we soared too near the sun
waxen wings melting
falling from heaven
mortal again to walk on the earth

I often think of you
and I
soaring through time and space
like gods
like me

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by Carl Josehart

Sometimes he calls to me sweetly in the middle of the night
His voice still gently echoing as I greet the morning light
Sometimes he cries for me bitterly clutches me and holds me tight
Sometimes I wish for him eagerly – trying to summon him with all my might

Sometimes I come to him needing his love, his touch, his kiss
When he accepts me, and loves me, it seems like perfect bliss
Sometimes he turns away from me angrily with a hiss
Sometimes I imagine him holding me – trying to make up for the caress I want and miss

Sometimes he storms up to me and boldly takes my hand
And leads me off, curious about what mischief he may have planned
Sometimes it will be to the beach to run barefoot in the sand
Sometimes to listen to music played by his favorite band

Sometimes I find him sitting quietly alone
Our lying in bed, crying, staring at the phone
Sometimes I can comfort him with my touch and reassuring words spoken in quiet tones
Sometimes the best I can do is hold him and try to make his pain my own

Sometimes we go gently into the stillness of the night
Often we rest easily til we are woken by the coming of morning’s light
Sometimes we fear the dying, lie awake, and hold each other tight
Sometimes we fear from the our weakness, and other times, from our might

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Freedom is Calling


Freedom Is Calling – Let Us Go Out To Greet It

God brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand, an outstretched arm, with great awe, signs and wonders. (Deuteronomy XXVI: 8)

For many of us the re-telling of the liberation of the Children of Israel from bondage echoes the stories of our struggle for liberation from persecution and hiding due to our sexual orientation. As with the telling of the Passover story, it is incumbent on each of us to consider ourselves as if each one of us personally was part of all of the struggles for liberation. To remember and honor those who gave their lives so that we might face a brighter future.

Like the Children of Israel before us we come out to freedom from bondage through a mighty hand, an outstretched arm, with great awe, signs and wonders.

With a mighty hand… We are discovering our voices and our political strength

With an outstretched arm… We are reaching out to embrace our families of origin and our families of choice

With great awe… We are reclaiming our religion and finding our spiritual home

With signs and wonders …  God set a rainbow in the sky as a sign of an eternal covenant that the waters would no more become a flood to destroy life.  We have adopted the rainbow as a symbol of our covenant to one another that hatred and bigotry will no longer be allowed to flood our world and destroy the lives of our people.

This year weak and vulnerable
Next year courageous and united in strength

This year afraid and alone
Next year comforted by the warmth of community

This year in darkness and hiding
Next year in freedom and light

This year in searching for meaning and direction
Next year leading our way toward a dream of acceptance, peace, hope and healing

-Carl Josehart
Passover, 1998


No Reason

My husband and I have been having some version of the following conversation on average once a day for the last twenty years.

Husband: “Do you love me?”

Me: “Yes”

Husband: “But why?”

Me: “No reason.”

One day the conversation happened in front of a friend. Shocked, she chastised me for what she thought was a callous, uncaring remark.

I chuckled, and explained that it was not meant to be. This particular exchange goes back many years to when we were planning our wedding. At the time, same-sex marriages were still rather uncommon and there wasn’t a well-developed liturgy for a couple aspiring to have a traditional Jewish wedding. A close friend, a member of the clergy himself, encouraged me to write our own service.

Although a same sex union would be rather new, I wanted the service to be anchored in tradition and be rooted in historic texts. While searching for texts that seemed to fit our relationship and personalities I came across the following text from Pirkei Avot (Ethics of Our Fathers):

“Any love that is dependent on something–when the thing ceases, the love also ceases.
But a love that is not dependent on anything never ceases.

What is an example of a love that is… not dependent on anything? The love of David and Jonathan.” (Pirkei Avot 5:16)

I loved the sentiment, the reference to a same-sex relationship from Jewish history (whether or not it was a romantic one) and from this verse our little inside joke was born. When my husband asks why I love him and I respond, “No reason” it is my shorthand way to say that my love does not depend on any one thing or reason and therefore is not subject to change, diminish or go away.

And to be honest, I still enjoy the shocked look on people’s faces when they hear me say it for the first time. Why? No reason…


Do Not Follow Me


by Carl Josehart

Do not follow me where I go
for I am not Moses
or even Job

My faith falters and stumbles
falls and rises
sometimes unpredictably

I raise the knife to Isaac
then tremble at the blindness of my faith
and how close it brought me to destruction

I question a god that tests through suffering
and measures faith
or demands us to forego the intellect so generously bestowed

I demand explanation, reparation and comfort
as my brothers die
good lives cut short – voices once raised in praise
now weep good-byes and yearn for peace

Do not follow me where I go
for my path leads not to salvation
Abraham was the first to see unity in god
but divided his house and sent away a lover and son
then sacrificed his parenthood again with Isaac

Aaron fashioned a golden calf
and danced with a frightened people whose
leader had climbed a mountain to converse with god
faltering faith
he was the one to lead the priestly clan

a righteous man
taunted for sport
loses all he loves then is rewarded
tears of sadness and joy
still fall on the graves of his family
where is their reward for being pawns in a master plan

Do not follow me where I go
for I do not know whether to charge up the mountain
or run away

Who shall lead us now
to a place we have not been
to a place we cannot yet even imagine
do we yet need to weather the floods of Noah
that will destroy all but a remnant
to see the rainbow of peace and promise
a new covenant

Do not follow me where I go
it seems we have had enough of following

Join me in my wandering if you will
where we lay we’ll call home
where we pray we’ll call sanctuary
where we love we’ll call heaven

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Hope and Herring

Hope and Herring
Meditations on Spiritual Healing for the Gay Jew

Schmalz herring and
gefilte fish
clash with Soho
East Hamptons
and Fire Island
especially when Fire Island was Fire Island
before the
new age
screamed at the dawn
through ashes of hope and despair

Schmalz herring and
gefilte fish
still taste comfortable
and feel like home
so do pickled tomatoes
and lox
not smoked salmon
though that is more acceptable
when served in loft apartments
with expensive bottled water
and organic, recyclable lives
enhanced by homeopathic, herbal
oriental, Chinese healing
massage, Shakra medicines

Schmaltz herring and
gefilte fish
may not be healthy
but taste like grandmother
tradition, piety, family, love
and holidays when people
argue and bristle
hug and pinch
talk with mouths
full of stories
brisket and
sweet kugels

Hope and herring
cosmic brothers
cavorting in the vast expanse of this universe
one feeding the other
chicken soup
“mit kreplach”
which just might be the cure to
isolation and despair
when served hot with commitment
ladled with love
into bowls faded from use
generous as the generations
who nourished their ailing
from their dime-store depths
crystal, china and sterling would
homogenize the taste
blanding the ethnic
with exotic herbs
the staple in up-and-coming
Cuisinart, cappuccino,
Corian kitchens
replete with water processed decaf
gladiolas and Italian ices

Hope and herring
cultures in collision
lifestyle with legacy
voices call to me from across the centuries
friends call to me from graves inhabited too soon
an eternal people
an eternal peace
shared dreams of a new world
free from persecution
prejudice and pain

Hope and herring
the tastes of my people
mix in my mouth with
the tastes of my lover

– Carl Josehart, November, 1994


Reaction to the Pulse Nightclub Massacre in Orlando

This letter was originally published on June 18, 20016 but seems just as relevant today as it was then.

An Open Letter to My Friends and Family

June 18, 2016

Since that horrible morning on June 12th when we all woke up to a changed world I have been hearing from friends and family wanting to know if I am OK. Well the answer is “yes” and “no”.

“Yes” – I am fortunate that I have the social, economic and emotional resources that I will find a way to manage though my feelings of grief, anger and helplessness. I was not in physical proximity to Orlando so I was never in any immediate physical jeopardy. I am also grateful that no one I personally knew was killed or injured. So yes, in some ways I am OK.

“NO” – I am not OK and don’t know when and if I ever will be again. After struggling to be accepted by society, my religious faith, facing employment discrimination, fighting for the right to marry my husband legally and have it be recognized across the country I love and call home – after my community struggled to learn to live with HIV and AIDS and the devastation it caused while saying goodbye to so many loved ones – after all that, I thought we had turned a corner – and now this. So no, in a very fundamental way, I am not OK and am not sure I will ever be again.

So if you love me and care about me here is what I need you to do:

  • Use your voice – speak up against hate speech whenever and wherever it happens – no matter who it is directed to
  • Use your influence – at work, at your church, synagogue, mosque or in social clubs you belong to make sure that you use your influence to advocate for change
  • Use your mind – be open to new ideas and experience, reach out to someone who is different from you and learn what it is like to experience the world through their eyes
  • Use your resources – to support organizations that foster an open, safe and caring community.
  • Use your vote – to support candidates that stand up for inclusion, diversity, equal rights and shun hate speech.
  • Use your hands – to reach out and lift up those in need of assistance and comfort those in need of healing
  • Use your network – to share this message with anyone that will listen and perhaps some that won’t in the hope that you will help plant the seeds of change that may someday blossom into greater understanding and acceptance.Thank you for your thoughts and prayers but what I need even more than that is your actions.

With great affection,


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