Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Minyan

Driving through shadows,
The world asleep,
Some trudging to the  toilet,
Splashing  stored up urges
Into unknown paths of darkness

Flickering  amber
Dancing along charcoal coated streets
In the distance a red thread cuts 
Across the sky, a reminder of sun yet to rise.

I head toward the harsh light
Piercing the blackness around it
Blinking I step into a space awash with 
The white  glare of fluorescence ,
A blank page inscribed 
With black circles of leather straps
And black  boxes, holding tiny gems
Of holy letters.

Some stand, waiting silently,
Some sit, waiting with eyes shut
Relishing traces of tucked in warmth
Some peer at prayers, preparing,
Lips limbered up for the race to God.

Silence is broken-“I have Kaddish to say 
For my father”- almost tearfully,
Pleadingly, “will there be a minyan?”  
Amidst the chorus of assurances 
Footsteps are heard , the arrival of the morning messiah.

Chanting begins and curls along
The  white walls of  this miniature sanctuary,
A tiny chapel to fit the smallness  of the crowd
Its crannies cramped with the drone of ancient words
Words centuries old.
Some sway, some simply sit,
Frozen in a far away stare into
A distant past-
Some sing, 
Bringing a lilt to morning’s awakening.
One is wordless, his prayer-
 His presence, passing along alms plate,
And when aging , shaky hands, barely able to hold  hymnal
Are summoned to raise the weight of Torah scroll
He praises with powerful arms lifted on high-
And all can see the black on white, like waves of the sea
Flowing over beds of dry land, watering thirsty mouths
Parched  by time’s irreversible passage.

Yisgadal v’yiskadash-
Sons praise God, purging guilt
Preserving  memory
Sustaining the soul somewhere
Widows weep, sitting patiently,
Wondering what to do,
Now standing , the center of attention,
Whispering  sounds of loss and loneliness,
Letters mispronounced, love grammatically correct.

I step into the sunshine of a new day
And above, draping the world in hope
Is a canopy of blue, unfolding, outstretching, from 
The  single  thread of  a humble  prayer shawl.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Holy Anagrams

I’m in love with  anagrams,
Like children’s toys 
Letters , the muddy clumps  of
Tiny castles , a new architecture
On the shores of my mind.

My most beloved leggos are
Holy ones,
Letters of an ancient tongue,
The language of God-talk
On shiny parchment 
Found beneath the sands of time

I bite into bread-LECHEM-
The staff of life,
Its crumbs crushed by coursing fluids 
Along dense avenues of digestion,
To seep into cells and
Support my habit to live.

I sleep and dream-CHOLEM-
Man does not live by bread alone,
The soul seeks sustenance too-
Pie in the sky, the fruit of imagination,
The pottage of possibility and  purpose, the meat of meaning.

I awaken from a nightmare-LOCHEM-
My mind is at war-fear and anger,
Dread of death, of evil others,
Of wishes that wreak vengeance
Leaving behind  the debris of want and hunger.

I weep-CHOMEL-
My heart breaks with waves of mercy,
Humanity’s breast has dried up, 
The milk of human kindness has soured.

The bald head of a child,
The ribs of a baby reaching out 
For anything that will restore a barren body
To its rightful place 
Under a weltering sun
That robs her of LECHEM-
Of the stuff of life.

As long as I dream, draped by  CHOLEM-
As long as compassion caresses soul with  CHOMEL,
As long as I resist cravings of LOCHEM, of battle and 
Then at last 
There will be LECHEM for all

Friday, January 23, 2015

Morning After Genesis

 Morning after Genesis

The sun  still asleep
 Awakening at appointed time
It has no troubled soul 
That  rouses rest from its nest of night 
While darkness hovers over  God.

But man awakens 
 in the shadow of dreams that prick one’s past, telling a story steeped in fear ,
 tales of disguised darkness, 
Of buried bones now come alive, resurrected in the valley of  
Visions visible only to the sleeping soul.
“It was evening”  but the morning hasn’t come-the sun still sleeps-and I must wait for its cleansing light.

Stars stud the sky;  blankets of cloud  
Bar the  way of sparkling  night-
It is morning, without rays of sun but the moon's  silver crescent bodes well for the day yet to come.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Je Suis......

Je Suis.....

“I am what I am”
 Declared by bush burning
Je suis,  what a jam!
Ray of  light, world’s yearning

does that mean for us
a road open to all
to make all the fuss
whatever the call

words of satire
bullets of hate
a world set on fire
why not hesitate 

before He decided
to make us from dust
could have longer abided
Before He could trust

that word and weapon
in hands of my brother
too easy to step on
the Je suis of another

what ingredient in soil
what part of our frame
allows us to spoil
life’s championship game

is that God’s reflection
tender children to slaughter
nothing’s left but dejection
abandoned by the Potter ?

perhaps Je suis.
in the end is the quest
who do we want to be
life’s ultimate test

I am Je suis
answer for now I see
a broken heart, humility.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Scenic Mountain-Jerusalem-November 18, 2014-7:01 am

The sea of Talmud has turned red,
Its depths drenched in the  blood of sainted scholars

Where was the staff of Moses?
Where was God’s outstretched hand?
Why finger pointing to hatred’s poison?
Who will part raging waters, red with blameless blood?

No  magical wands, meat cleavers instead!
Murderers’ outstretched hands , stabbing white draped backs bent in prayer,
Talit turns red!
“Allah akbar,” the God of desperate death
Paid a visit to the synagogue that morning,
seeking sacrifices of unblemished souls

“If your sins be like crimson” a  prophet declares-
Seven in the morning, prayers
borne heavenward  on droplets of red,
Ascending from altars of bloody floors
and holy pages crimson splattered.

will bloody offerings 
cleanse sinful stains? 
will white ashes
soothe broken hearts,
a balm for lesions of love?

Worshipers watch arid dust 
poured  upon  corpses of consecration,
the deep is now their home
swallowed by the sacred soil of the  restful mountain .

Not pursuing enemies, sinking in sea’s churning waters,
but stricken Jews
drowning  in  tears of inconsolability.

“Allah akhbar!”-God of terrible might-
Away with Your furious face-
Get off Your bloodthirsty throne!
God of murderous might-turn around, do Teshuva,
show  Your back , that side seen by Moses on another mountain,
the tefillin knot that blunts  a bloody blade,
a back benign  and merciful;
Please take a seat on a fleece pillow, one soft as snow.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sex,Suffering and Song

Sex, Song and Suffering 

People’s lives 
Stand on many things
On what survives
And on passing flings

A Jew would say,
With faith and trust
Study, give and pray
without question a must

I don’t disagree
With any of  this
Yet it seems to me
We dare not miss

The true reality
Whether we like it or not,
Of another basic three
In their snare we are caught

Sex, suffering and song,
The gist of  humanity
 If right or if wrong
 Outlines of our sanity

Whether young or old,
Just ask Dr. Freud,
To life’s joy we can’t hold,
Without Eros buoyed  

 Disappointment and pain,
 Loss and much sadness,
They come like the rain
So do death, grief and madness

Amidst all life’s  story
All the good and the bad,
Strains of grace and of glory
That make the heart glad

Sound of music and  song 
Made by one or by throng
Spaces empty and aching
Filling souls as they’re breaking

One song  to endure
Either  popular or obscure
How can God walk away
Without one tune to play?