Friday, June 19, 2015

I say Kaddish for

I say kaddish for 
my mother -in -law,
her years four score
and eighteen
yet feelings fresh and  raw
life no longer safe,  routine

I say kaddish for
the ashes of an infant
on a crematorium floor
burned up in an instant
swept under the world’s torpor

I say Kaddish for
the ashes of a Jewish warrior
in the bowels  of a twisted tank
curls and smiles no more
sacrifice was his rank

I say Kaddish for
the girl who once hopped , danced and ran
tomorrow will never adore
comforting arms of a man,
rape her initiation, to the world, a whore. 

I say Kaddish for
bulging eyes of a child
overflowing with the  roar
of terror gone wild
wretched from pore to grimy  pore

I say Kaddish for
an empty carriage
without blanket, pillow or toy
the elusive grail of marriage
cuts down life’s branch of joy

I say kaddish for
a father’s dreams
to fill the world with song
instead my mind shatters with screams
at life’s unfairness, choices so wrong.

I say kaddish for
yearnings once so real
possibilities for sure to come true
 but hopes hopped away, like a rabbit on a wheel
or dashing to a thicket, disappearing from view.

I say Kaddish for
The Holy One, no where to be found
push open a  portal , every possible  door
I crawl along each inch of ground
my eyes to heaven soar

Is He shrinking, 
since the world began
What could He be thinking
in a creation of catch as catch can

I say Kaddish for
with praise to fill  the void, the space
each YitgadaL an open door
at the head table, please  take Your Place.

I say kaddish for 
the gush of ire
seeping out of every pore
If only I could fling it on a funeral pyre
so it rises to heaven’s door

it clogs my heart
like plaque in body’s vein
will prayer my soul jump start
to flow like gentle rain 

but prayer is paper thin
as long as hurt chokes every swallow
heart so hard, where to begin
every effort, empty and hollow  

And so the kaddish I recite
attune my ears to every sound
Each day, morning noon and night
some feeling to be found

the same words holy and ancient
say over and over again
counsel to be calm and patient
I cant help but beg Lord tell me when

amidst inner doubt and storm
if to Kaddish  I hold on
no single foe or those who swarm
though they’re encountered hither and yon

can fully rid my belief
in what’s beyond and yet so near
to bring a breaking heart relief
and for one blessed  moment,
 banish hopelessness and fear

Yitkadash-reality of sanctity
B’almah-gift of creativity
V’Yamlich-purpose not living chaotically

Bezman kariv-let it come quickly
Amen-we’ve been waiting oh so patiently
Yehay shemay -we need the Name to live, to be

Mevorach-blessing ,life’s discovery
Leolam-flutters of eternity
Leaylah-all we know is mystery
Shelamah-and finally 
Shalom-all fragments now a unity.

I say kaddish for 


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

From Generation to Generation-For Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Day)

There is a pipeline that runs 
not across the rugged terrain
Of Northern Canada or the wilds of Alaska
But across the tundra of tragic generations,
A pipeline gushing the energy of life,
Genes of fear seeping through placentas
Into innocent bundles of soon to be 
Bawling babies.
The source of this sticky fluid
That clogs the capillaries of clarity and courage 
Lies deep within ancient strata of 
Compressed hatred,
Hatred solidified into the shale of shame and terror
Trickling through seams of a grandmother’s uterus
Coursing through veins bulging with the  borscht of Russian steppes
And the “barakes”
 of the Balkans
These strings of  chromosomes stamping identities of  fear
To the forefront of children’s children
Reaching its evolutionary eruption through smoke stacks belching tender toxins
Of children’s flesh,

And those that live
Are “fracked”  into sources of continuity-
But life’s  liquid has been blackened by the soot of
Jewish skin trapped inside the chimneys
Of refineries wishing to purify Europe’s foul fuel
Of Jewish contaminants-
Yet  the oil of Hebrew babies  flows , emitting the energy 
of  breathing,  learning  and playing, and showing the world hope
But they tremble with the oil  of  terror’s transmission,
One that  stalks the pale and pretty face of my daughter.

I want to go home-for Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Day)

Her new home
she's come a long way, baby
Laura Ashley-
goyish, but gorgeous,
delicate, refined
the smell of  “Waspy” freshness
in every corner-
“It's very clean” she mutters, an accent 
 of some far away location
far away from the shimmering shores of the Hudson river
and so long ago, before her world died,
when she could boast  of a father
with  modern machines who
could crush kernels into
and recite the  mantra of
lines of gentile farmers waiting for
the miracle of a wealthy Jew-

“I want to go home” she declared, eyes blankly looking ahead 
at some dim memory of 75 years ago-
“and where is home” she is asked, fear in the daughter's voice,
lest she reply
“the Queens!”
“Sosnovitch” came the barely audible 
a tiny shtetl
 of carefree days,
not a Jew in sight today, unless 
you dig underground.

Another home, another grey haired lady 
lost in the emptiness of time
upon hearing her plea-”I want to go home!”
a social worker asks, pity and professionalism mingled in a desperate mind,
 “Where is home?
And she answers with a certainty born of confusion


“Unetaneh Tokef”(High Holiday Prayer) For Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Day)

What do angels do?
Each day they agree to praise
In tones gentle and pure, obedient, loyal…
Such calm and serenity
A daily  celestial celebration
Then the New Year arrives..
And angels change their course,
In the heavenly heights,  fidelity gives  way to frenzy
As Angels scurry about,
Chaos , not the chorus of sweet melody,
To praise , to protest, to stay silent?
A day of judgment!
Who shall live and who shall die, and how???

Below mortals in quiet calm of sacred space
Embraced by coziness of family and friends,
And competent clergy, 
God is our  Shepherd , we read,
counting  little lambs shepherded back to safety after a long  day of grassy grazing
Each one passing under His soothing staff, counting and recording each little lamb;
If  one is missing then, like Moses, He  crosses  mountains and valleys 
And  cradled in the arms of the Almighty, little lost ones come  home.

we pass under His rod-
 a crook of compassion.
He will care for us, see to it that tomorrow’s 
Surprises will be pleasant ones-

Another New Year, without synagogue, 
Without heavenly hopes
This time in hell-
The Teuton god carries a stick,  a crook of cruelty 
He too counts and records , but with  the precision of  German 
 Gemeindschaft, the heart of perverted power
Babies in wailing mothers arms pass under the gold tipped staff-
crazed , they arrive at  stone cold enclaves ,
In cars meant for cattle, not fleecy, cuddly lambs!

No rhetorical questions waiting for an answer-
 All will die, some immediately, others too soon-
How? By gas, by fire, by wild beasts who play the part of  kind shepherds
To fool and deceive –
“Arbeit Macht Frei” the sign reads-
the reward for work is freedom-
And if one little lamb is unaccounted for, 
no effort will be spared to find it and bring it back home, home to the wolf’s claws, 
 where it belongs, soon to ascend 
chimney stacks and join the  smoke filled skies-
Angels abound, angels of death,  scurrying  about, with clear minds and hearts-
Doing their duty with reverent obedience
Performing their tasks of terror and death
Joyfully and with melody and song.

Please God-don’t be so meticulous in your 
Accounting of us and your divine record keeping-
Turn away  for a moment , so that we can escape  and hide 

Until liberators arrive and take us back to pens of promise. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Passover-Eating Matzah

“ The world is the host-it must be chewed.”

Was Cheever at my Seder?
Did he see us munch away at the Matzah?
 Matzah, the Jewish host of life, the flesh
of every Jewish christ on earth?
Simple dough and water- dry land and seas,
the everything of this planet,
to be chewed with gusto 
 Satiated on matzah, do we transubstantiate?
Crunching the crispy furrows of cardboard tasting wafers 
into softened mush, the warmth of our tongues watering the dryness
of hearts into living places of feeling and life,
 into the living flesh of  divine beings?

Do we now know the answer to the four questions of life-
why is this night different? 
The Seder we chew on-
tell and retell stories, 
drink the bloody red wine, 
sample sprigs of green,
 ingest the bitterness of human suffering,
 burn the lining of our guts, 
 fill bellies with a banquet of smells and tastes-
so much chewing, our jaws weary and sore,
finally  reclining , satisfied smiles on our reddened faces, we spit out songs of praise and thanksgiving!
Next year in Jerusalem!
 But  for now we clean up and drag our tired bodies to bed,
 and  again, drift into the darkness of night,
but tonight we  know -nirzah, we have chewed the sacrificial meal and it is pleasing to the liberating spirits on high.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Personal Dayenu-Passover-2015


If I could only wiggle my toes
And know something that no one else knows,

If I could bend my knees,
And see what everyone else sees,

If I could raise my arm,
Holding back from doing harm,

If I could twiddle my thumb
And scratch my bum

If I could bend the  wrist
And my ankle twist,

If I could hear my belly growl
And wipe away a scowl

If I can slide off the bed
And not land on my head

If I can hear birds chirp
and my gut   give out a burp

If I have my teeth to brush
And get dressed in a rush

And let’s not forget,
Hands and face that get wet,

I cannot overlook,
How little effort it took
To open my eyes 
And for my belly to rise

Heart going pitter patter
It’s not some small matter

Breathing in,
Breathing out,
I can sing
I can shout

Roof over my head,
Simply alive and not dead.

I can do it  all  and so much more
To be grateful is the door
To  our joy , our longevity
Happiness and serenity.

Dayenu-we declare
We thank God for our share.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Angel cards

Finger tips slide along
the glossiness
of two tiny cards
Tucked inside so many others, hiding in a 
 black velvet pouch, waiting to be seen in the light
of someone’s hopes,
Not a game of poker, not a game at all

But a guide , words that rouse the  Sabbath soul 
after weekdays heavy toll

Angels walk you home
From synagogue at night
So that you wont get hurt
By muggers on the way
By those who steal  the holiness of time
Wishing  to rob for unknown  reason or rhyme
By the light of a dinner table,
Home at last,
Two little cards,
Like sacred  tablets with one word
To show the way,  lighten up the path
Of treks through wilderness of worry , ways winding  with

With  closed eyes , 
magnifying  mystery , chance,
What word  will arise,
What answer, adventure or romance,
Not prophecies that need come true,
Words of choice,  not happenstance,
But do what  angels do
Climbing ladders,
They take your heart and lead you to what matters

“Shalom aleichem “
we sing
Our guests,  angels coming home
some magic, and some peace they bring
Then off they go to roam
Searching for  the sacred spark
In places cold and dark
For wine that warms
And spongy bread that forms
A family that loves.

Letters  bouncing in my view
The font of faith-PURPOSE,
a sign of Sabbath, a simple clue
A question beyond the surface
life’s essence  is on trial,
where can I find  my soul’s holy smile

I pause  to take the second card, 
A word to forge my fate
What will the next  word have me guard
My life’s goal indicate

Letters carved deep
penetrating, through and through
a font to savor and keep
 my heart makes a lilting  leap
I know its message to be  true

 the word its dictionary  divine
Presents itself  in mysterious fashion
 A way of life yet  to be mine.

 when feeling tired, sad and down
And searching for some solace
In city or in some small  town
Compassion is my talis

It girds me tight,
In measures always  fit
It shines on me the gentle light
Of  precious holy writ.