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Happy Spring

There’s this tough navy guy Dwayne and his royal bulldog Henry who drop by the coffeeshop just about every day for coffee, a breakfast sandwich, a wood pulp newspaper and community buzz. We go bananas for the king here, but he could give two shits about us. Henry had an older, alpha sister, the imperial…

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Some of My Best Friends are Old Men

As you may know, over the past few years, I’ve fallen hard for 3 guys; actually, 4, if you count U.S. Senator and presidential dream Bernie Sanders, and 5, if you count my father who kicked it off by getting sick and dying. I am lucky. My Dad was solid, my first, good guy. I loved him. He…

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All Rise

On the eve of the inauguration of a disastrous president of the divided states, my mother took me to see a 7th-Day Adventist gospel choir at a South American synagogue in Miami. The largely African-American choir and their crack band blew the roof off the joint. In Hebrew. As they clapped and swayed and soared…

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Get Up, Stand Up

My People! See y’all tomorrow at the Women’s March on Washington. I’ll be marching with my Mom at the Bayfront Park Amphitheatre in Miami while my Montreal peeps burn the fire at home. Where will you be?? This protest lullaby is by the beautiful, bespectacled, delightful, delicious Cheese On Bread. Share if you dare! They…

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Leonard Cohen Forever

A hot mess, I was all of 12 when I stumbled on to my first doomed lovers in the traumatized shelves of my neurotic high school, skew Jews: And at the hot ovens they Cunningly managed a brief Kiss before the soldier came To knock out her golden teeth. At a tender, young age, I was deeply…

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At Peace with Lou

Lou is dead. The poetry hound and witty, Jewish mystic I love to write about. My bestie Naomi’s 98 year-old Dad. I thought you’d want to know. Lou was a sweet-talking mensch with a hearty laugh and a blinding smile, keen on love and not afraid to sing it. In the literary haze of his final chapter, this straight-shooting minstrel became…

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Loony

I am melting. It is 34 freaking degrees Celcius at high noon, on a floating, wooden dock. Summer burns the fire. The dark water below opens its glittering mouth and I slither in, wannabe amphibian in a freshwater lake. Sizzling in the cool. The bottom rises up to embrace my form; tall grasses whisper and circle…

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Lou over the ocean

I think my pal Lou is on his deathbed.  What does that even mean? He sleeps most of the time and doesn’t eat much. His days of being a medical miracle are spent pondering the finish line. At 97, his gaze is distant, his kidneys are kaput and his body is shut down for business, but man-oh-man-oh-man, dude,…

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Love Wins

As shit storms the bad news, fear breaks the internet and the media feeds the beast, I sit, reeling at my table, in my melting-pot café, and fret about corporatism, climate change, dashed dreams and the antidote to all this trauma. Abby, a regular and a pal, shows up, hungry for breakfast, with no appetite…

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Lucky Lou & the Garden of Eden

I get there and the 97 year-old, retired filtration equipment distributor and Jewish mystic Lou Levine is in the garden shade, nose deep in the Book of 101 Poems, 67 poems in. Lou smiles, serene. I am enthralled, not just because poetry and song have inspired this remarkably happy man for nearly a century, but because his darling…

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On the Road, Tripping

I run across the blistering highway into a decaying graveyard in my candy-cane sundress and flip flops. This poor man’s cemetery is a hot mess: all dappling light, buzzing wildlife and crumbling stone, overgrown with massive, live oaks, dripping with Spanish moss, teetering over the edge of the marshlands, bone deep in the American South.…

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How to Stop Writing

My People, I’m gone fishing, in case you’ve wondered. My psyche needed some air and put up a sign. Experience has taught me to listen to signs. One day, hard-wired to my laptop in the café, the writing stopped. My eyes blinked at the screen, only to discover there was nothing to say. Rat-tat-tat! Militant fingers soldiered on, castigating, violating the keys, but my…

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#ArtisLove

Sometimes words are not enough to tell you how I feel, who I am, or how I see the world. #Sparks  #Gifts If you would like to live with or gift any (or all) of these drawings, I’d be delighted to sign, kiss and mail you or someone you love a bold 8×10 print(s). All you have to do is send…

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The Happy Reader

My eyes sparked on the hot-pink paperback sexing up our neighbors’ suburban library: Xaviera Hollander’s barnstorming bestseller, The Happy Hooker: My Own Story. A gluttonous reader in the pre-pubescent set, I knew romance, but I didn’t know hookers, and the deeply penetrating gaze of the courtesan in question clearly advised me that this candy-covered publication was not…

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Joyride

Meet Teddy. Her real name is Theodora, after her late, great Nonna, but that was a mouthful and Teddy spat it out, like every word that shoots out of her blood- red kisser so freaking fast, it’s a miracle she doesn’t choke. I have never met anyone who talks and reveals so much, in so little…

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Living the Dream

I threw myself at a baby in the café today. Her eyes were soft then wild, she was purely in the moment, drooling like a bulldog, high as a kite on life. I swooped her into my arms and spun her round and round, colored lights swirling in her flashing brain… or was it mine?…

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I Can See You

What big eyes you have. When I was young, people used to squawk and stare. The better to see you with! I’d spit, as they loomed over my stroller and drooled. I’m a writer!  I wail. So lost, so lonely, so helpless without words. #Spark I CAN SEE YOU was drawn in a coffeeshop, on the mean…

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Stay Calm

Over two, rocking years ago, an aneurysm burst on my father’s infected aorta, he coughed blood, his eyes rolled in his head and he died in my mother’s arms. I screamed for help and held them both. The second he was gone, my world turned on its axis as his impact on my life rushed my heart.…

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Thanks Giving

Welcome to Burns the Fire’s new series SPARKS! Flashes of love and inspiration that will be posted every other week, for your stimulation. * Happy Thanks Giving!! Let’s re-make it worldwide. In celebration of the bountiful harvest we should all be able to share, in celebration of my readers, my life and my repaired laptop, I fall to my…

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Art is Love

Oh, my people, I just spent a sweaty 2.5 days overcooking a blog post about the fine art of GIVING = RECEIVING and finally realized that I should just cool the freak down and get to the point: I need to make a living from this blog, and I am asking for your support. My original plan included offering premium…

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Hot Dogs!

Henry walks into the café on all fours, panting and drooling, in the dog days of summer. His body is rock-solid, his mind is in the moment and his soul gongs like a bell. Low to the ground, sweating through the soles of his feet, this canine zen master expertly steers his honker and undulating tongue, lapping crumbs and mopping…

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Until Next Time

I fell hard for an old, Polish man with a sweet heart and a killer constitution, the unassuming, slow-moving star of a story that he, his late wife and their little dog so gamely let me take a crack at. As I contemplate the book of his life, I wonder: does it end here? Dear…

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Do You Need A Hug?

I’m chugging kale in a San Francisco juice bar, contemplating an aching heart and Joe the hugger in Montreal. He’s the wise man at my café, who the tough guys are nuts about and heave-ho their lumbering bodies to embrace. I eyeballed Joe for months before I wrote a word about his telekinetic hugs. We’re pals…

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Am I Making Any Money With My Blog?

Everyone and her dog asks. It is a burning question for most artists, because so many of us struggle with our worth and so few of us are paid for it. If we believe in the impact of art on our soul, this has to change. My response has always been a twitchy, not yet. Not until I…

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Sister Blogs

Imagine the rush when I found myself chugging gunpowder in a primo tea room, surrounded by a coven of captivating women: a circle of eccentric personality and form, a ferocity of intelligence, baddassery and love. There was a doctor and professor of geriatrics, two psychiatrists, a writer/translator, two therapists and me, taking mental notes. The longer we…

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I Am Stronger than Most Men

At a polyfiber-swathed table, in the once la-di-da dining room of a still pricey home for old Jews, Lou is sing sing singing out loud, to the Hebrew songs in his head. His meal-time gal pal Ethel signals for him to keep it down, but Lou’s on a roll and frankly doesn’t give a damn,…

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Meet Lou

We get here, and Lou is singing. His caregiver Polly is waiting for the chorus when he takes a breath, so she can feed him. His pal Ethel watches him like a hawk so he doesn’t go full throttle, piss off the other diners and make trouble for them in their once grand, now fading old-age…

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I Love You

I threw a football at a guy I had just met, at a freestyle picnic in a sun-swept field. I was savage, that ball freaking soared, and he ran after it backwards, laughing, shouting, arms burst open – joyous, fearless, free – he jumped! Caught the ball, my imagination, my heart, soul, body, me. *…

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A Writer is Born.

It all came together when I learned how to spell. My grandparents were deaf-mute and we couldn’t talk until I cracked the alphabet and fast. I had a lot to say. The first word I formed with my breathless fingers was – I spelled it over and over and over again, one trembling letter at a…

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Deer People

Our car was skiing down a icy road in the Catskill mountains on the first day of the year, when my husband jammed on the brakes and hissed. Look. Staring at us from the tangled woods was a massive deer, with a look so fierce and maternal, the hair rose on my body and I lost my words.…

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Free Hugs

When the short, old, white guy in a blue jacket drops by the café where I write, like clockwork, a couple of beefy regulars shout, jumping out of their seats, and one-by-one, heave their hulking bodies into his arms for a hug. Joe holds the tender brutes to his small, sturdy chest, everyone laughs and the…

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Home, Sweet Home

I fell hard for Sgniezska and Eddy, two years ago, when our eyes locked on the street. I followed them home, tail wagging, to meet Eddy’s mighty wife Junya, and down glass-after-glass of tea. They rang my heart like a bell.  * Their tiny kitchen cooked with stories of their big lives. All I had to do…

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I Never Told

It was New Year’s Eve, 1986, at the tarted-up Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, Florida. I slipped inside a glittering ballroom; bushy-browed, sensitive, head-to-toe in black, searching for a thoughtful perch where I could observe the action from the back. There was no place to hide. The joint was on fire. I sat on a bar stool…

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Love & Squalor in the Middle East, 2

A shy Bedouin boy was stabbed to death in the Negev desert of Israel/Palestine. At night, in front of the fire he built, by the stranger he invited to share his food and tea. His name was Awwad Amrana, and he was 13. A spirited Jewish girl grew up near Awwad’s camp. They were friends, she…

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Love & Squalor in the Middle East, 1

As the trauma in Israel/Palestine rages on, I try to keep my focus on growing peace between people, far from politics, wherever I see the light. Meet my friend Tali. Her life story is more stunning than most, but it is what she does with her experience, that makes her a poster child for love. Tali Goodfriend was five when…

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Girls I Love

I don’t have children, but omg, I love my girls. Deep sea-creatures in the ocean of my heart, daughters from another world. I never wanted to have kids. The truth didn’t make me feel like a freak of nature, guilty or a lesser human being, but the question pounded in my chest every time I saw a tiny babe: what…

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Between the Lines (& some writing tips)

My husband drags me out of the rapture of a NY finger lake in a summer storm, my love, it’s time. Briny tears, freshwater and I shower the front seat and we speed off on the highway home, gushing clouds and flashing sky. Back on the grid, I hear from one of my fave bloggers – Jen Groeber…

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All About My Mother

I love my mother because, no matter the challenge, she loves life. I love my mother because she cooked gorgeous meals for our family every day, for years. I’d yell, Ma, what’s for supper? and bitch, again? before we ate, while that delicious food was her heart, warming the plate. I love my mother because she throws a mean…

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We Are Alive

There’s a mad woman in the café where I write who looks like Sarah Silverman with a bitchin tan and she’s yelling, swearing, tweeting, shooting espresso and vaping up a shit-storm as the Germans wipe the sorry ass of her beloved Portuguese at the FIFA World Cup. I would not want to be the electronic cigarette in her mouth or…

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How to Stop Smoking & Keep Writing

I drop to my knees, ejaculating on the planks of my fortune, and exhale. I am breathing again, alive, electrified roots singing, man, singing, man, sweet angel of merciless shock, singing, this is better than anything, take everything, everything I have, everything I am, just do not touch this moment of bliss. I was in my early…

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Gabriel Garcia Marquez Saved My Life

The man, outside my own, who I have long fantasized about being stranded with on a deserted island, is dead. It wasn’t for the sex. I chose him because I couldn’t imagine a more ardent thinker, seductive conversationalist or outrageous dreamer, who, staring into the belly of extinction, could help keep me laughing, crying and sane. My people,…

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All You Can Eat

I can’t look. A gang of black vultures are circling the manicured street I’m on, and I know they’re not here for the view. I can’t look, but my eyes do. They race to find the crush of splattered guts and bloody fur on the asphalt. A possum hit by a driver who ran off in a fast car. Breakfast…

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Lost

I was in my head, my hood, my music, when a honking car blasted me back to the real world. I looked up to see an old woman standing on top of a manhole, in the middle of the icy street. Her lips were moving, but no words came out. The sun set her snow-white…

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Shine the Light

I’m out of the closet. Thanks to interweb fairy Jennie Saia at Tip of My Tongue for nominating Burns the Fire for a sunshiney award, advising me to nominate ten blogs I like and write ten, gulp, facts about me. Truth. 1)  I make stuff up. I write fiction and scripts and make movies, bringing…

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To Iran, with Love

I don’t know if you’ve seen Ben Affleck’s Oscar-baiting Argo or Showtime’s once-great Homeland, but while well-crafted, their largely cardboard depictions of Iranian people as fanatical, bloodthirsty, anti-American yahoos has inspired me to pay tribute to some of the most caring, creative and community-minded people I know, in a series I am calling To Iran,…

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As The World Turns

It was 4:00am, I turned in my sleep, when the ceiling hit the floor and the room began to spin. YOW!! As if a puny, mortal howl could bring the cyclone of my spiralling bedroom back down to earth. I flung myself on to the whirling mattress and held on for dear life. It stopped as…

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Life or Death, 3: Top of the World

Michael Goyer dropped dead one year ago today. In front of his wife, my dearest friend Naomi. In a bed set up in their sun-lit living room, recovering from an accident that smashed his elbow and knee. Mike’s life was ripped from his body by a homicidal blood clot and he fought until his heart shut…

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A Family Tree

Forty-eight hours after I saw my Dad die, I stood in front of his wooden casket, in a matching, brown dress. I regarded the box with curiosity, but didn’t feel much. The body inside, the envelope as my husband calls it, wasn’t the father I knew and loved.  We stood together in front of the casket; my traditional…

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