Monday, March 2, 2015

Leonard Nimoy: beyond Mr. Spock

Leonard Simon Nimoy was born March 26, 1931 in Boston, Massachusetts and he sadly died at the age of 83 on February 27, 2015 at his home in Hollywood, California from complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The son of Yiddish-speaking immigrants from Iziaslav, Russia (now Ukraine), he gained famed as the Enterprise’s Science Officer, Mr Spock on Star Trek (1966-1969) as well as eight feature films. I knew Mr. Nimoy as the accomplished actor that he was. However, I didn’t know he was also a poet and photography. Today, I am going to feature three of this poems that I love and some of his photography from the Shekhina Project.

Chambers Street
I got the stick. Who’s got the ball
The tar is hot and sticky.
Buck, buck against the wall
Go yell for Joe and Dicky
Hey kids, get away from the car.
Mary’s white comin’ out the door
Communion at St. Joe’s
Pick the dice up off the floor
Tell ‘em chinky shows
Here comes a pair of penguins
They’ll rap your knuckles hard
You wanna try and duke it out
Let’s go down by the yard
Charlie’s river’s dirty now
Can’t swim there. Out of luck.
First is the pole, the car is third
Get chips from the iceman’s truck
Hey kids, get away from the car!
Run and hide from the crazy guy
Dressed in robe of black
Tied with rope, shouting loud
What’s sitting in his sack ?
We never finished summer then
It sort of slipped away.
The worry on the young one’s mind
Was what are we gonna play?
Hey kids. Get away from the car !!

Chambers Street invokes images of children playing the neighborhood. Playing stick ball, a street version of baseball with the designation of landmarks as certain bases. Nuns, priests/rabbis walking by. Boys setting up boxing matches away from the adults. All the kids clambering and running after the ice cream truck. Adults yelling at the children for doing something they weren’t supposed to. A summer of great childhood memories. Even though the poem is an image of Nimoy’s children in the 1930/40s, it brings up a childhood memory for me. I remember playing baseball in the park by our house. We had a stick from a broken broom handle and a tennis ball. Three trees formed a perfect 1st, 2nd and 3rd bases that we had our own baseball diamond. Who’s childhood wasn’t filled with friends, ice cream trucks, sports and running away from adults who caught us doing something wrong?

A silence with you
A silence with you
Is not
a silence

But a moment rich 
with peace

A silence with you is a simple poem with a powerful image. When I read this poem I image peaceful contentment as I hold my husband and daughter and realize that I could be in this moment forever. As a mother of a very active three year old, I treasure the moments of silence. When my daughter simply sits with me to watch her favorite cartoons or riding in the car and enjoying the planes landing as we drive by the airport or the train as it zooms in front of us. I also image with this poem that moment when a big fight is over and silence fills the air. Both parties fill better than they have cleared whatever has been bothering them and they have talked it out. The peaceful moment of silence when the stress is released and you can relax. Silence isn’t always just no noise, it can be filled with a million different emotions.

I have known despair
I value hope

I have tasted frustration
I value fulfillment

I have been lonely
I value love

Because is by far my favorite poem and of all Mr. Nimoy’s poems I’ve read so far, this one spoke to me the most. I have known despair, doubt, and loss, I have hope for the future. I have been frustrated and stressed that fulfillment is very satisfying and I enjoy that moment of success. I have been alone and lonely, I treasure the love I now experience every day from my husband and my daughter. I love this poem because it reminds us that the bad experiences often make the good ones more enjoyable and treasured. Even though we don’t want the bad times, they help us enjoy the good times even more. The negative and positive events are the yin and yang of life. Without despair, we can’t know hope. Without frustration, we can’t know fulfillment and without loneliness, we can’t know love.

Since I am not a big Star Trek fan, I only knew of Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock. I never realized how accomplished he was in many other areas. He studied photography at UCLA in the 1970s. He earned a M.A. in Education from Antioch College and his received an honorary doctorate from Antioch University. He was also an accomplished director. He directed Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) and Three Men and a Baby (1987). He has published several volumes of poetry since the 1970s as well as two autobiographies. His final tweet, a few days before his death, read: “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP” Beautiful words from an amazing man with a beautiful soul.