THE HERMIT OF THE MARSH

October 19, 2007 at 10:11pm (Poetry)

 

The hermit of the marsh,

squatting in his thatchy hut alone,

painted his face with mud and chanted, Om.

 

Sounds among the yarrow stalks:

             shaking pumpkins;

                          floating bones;

                                    drowning bees;

                                               awakening stones.

 

We searched for omens in each of these.

“What do you see” we asked.

                                              “Nitchevo,” you answered.

“What do you hear?” we asked.

                                                  “Nitchevo,” you said.

“What? Do you see nothing? hear nothing?”

 

I neither hear the pumpkin shaking,

nor the bones breaking,

nor the bees drowing.

 

                                    “But the stones, the stones,”

we say, “We hear them singing.

                                                singing to the bones.”

 

                                                 * * * *

So now we wait again in this uncertain

hour, between the dark and the daylight,

when the Nightshade begins to flower

and cicada sing:

                       

                      Hos-podi po-milwi. Has-podi po-milwi.

 

A lazy beetle rolls its dung across

the sky, while you and I gather moss.

 

Meanwhile, in another time and place,

the hermit of the marsh has flown his coop,

but left this note:

 

                           Be still, and know that I am gone

back home.

                    Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om.

 

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VERSES FROM THE LILA

October 19, 2007 at 4:26pm (Poetry)

                                           

1ST OF THREE

No, I said no, he said.

— Oh, so you say, she says.

— No, he says no.

    Not maybe or . . . .[Selah]

 

            What is that sound under the door?

 

A baby crying,

                           nothing more.

 

— So says you, says he,

    But to me,

                    it sounds like Esau, dieing.

 

Damn yadada, yadada

    shouts the man from down below;

    and pounding on the ceiling with a broom

    continues shouting from his room:

 

Cut the crap and stitch the nine.

    Time is money, money time.

    That’s all I know you need to know.

 

— Ain’t that the truth, says Floe.

   And hurry up, says she.

 

— That’s right; it’s time, says he.

    So lay the mattress on the pea

    and cover up the spindles,

    cover up the glass;

    fetch a pail of water to the door

    lest dirty hands should pass

    beyond the veil.

 

Oy vay,

                 pants Mrs. Bloom, arriving late.

— Says Rachel Sweeny, palms upturned,

    Would you like a plate? Something sweet?

Well, maybe just a kuchen and a small glass wine,

    nothing more. On such occasions, who can eat?

 

                                                                               [Selah]

 

But wait,

               who are those other voices

coming from that other room?

 

                           — No is no, he says.

                           — You said I said I want Esau dead.

                           — What? Never! (Or hardly ever.)

                           — Did.

                           — Did not.

                           — Did too.

                           — Says you.

                           — Ah, krikey,

                               never Jew a Jew.

 

“No. . . . not those . . . . but those,”

she whispers from behind her fan.

 

“What are they saying, those voices?

“Those ten? Did someone die?

And if so, when?

And if not, why?

Who are those men,

“chanting. chanting. chanting?”

 

Damn yadada yadada,

    shouts the shouter once again

    and curses God from behind

    his evening paper:

 

                                      DOG BITES FLEA,

                                    BOTH DIE. (PAGE 10)

 

While down the hall and to the left

the Princess cannot sleep.

A lumpy mattress.

Too much pepper in the soup.

(The piglet sneezes.)

 

“Beat the child!” she screams;

but no one in the castle hears.

Instead, her dreams are wet

with tears and

                       babies crying;

                            kippers frying;

                                 dishes flying;

                                      Shiva dieing.

 

And still the mad old King raves on:

Order in the court! Order in the court!

Bang!     Bang!     Bang!     Bang!

 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,

and to the Holy Spirit.

                                     As it was in the beginning,

is now and ever will be:

                                       world without end.

Amen.

 

2ND OF THREE

Mrs. Bloom yawns in bed,

the wine still throbbing in her head.

 

Outside, three ra’ens sit on a tree,

each of them as black can be.

 

Below their perch there lies a Knight,

slain beneath his shield so bright.

  

        With a down, derry-derry down-down.

 

“Sweet Jesus, woman,” Bloom had said.

“Give the child a crust of bread

before she dies

                        and crayfish,

scuttling to the sea,

                              pluck out her eyes.

 

(They were beautiful, her eyes;

            I wonder what in death they see

                   with a down, derry-derry, down-down.)

                                 

                                              * * * *

 

Rachel Sweeny, nee Rabinowitz,

gathers seashells by the seashore

singing softly to herself,

                                     Mutter, mutter,

gibt mier broit,

                          and thinking of the other night,

sighs and shakes her head.

 

“Well, he died and now he’s dead,”

she thought,

                     “Or is he?”)

(Thinking always made her dizzy.)

 

“Has he gone to his reward?

“Has he gone to someplace safer?

“Is he living in the Lord,

                                    transubstantiated wafter?

“Who can know and who can tell?

“Life, it’s just a living hell.

“From attachment suffering comes,

“and hangs us, like Siddhartha,

“by our thumbs.”

 

                                                * * * *

 

For Dodi

 

Lilith!” bellows Mrs. Bloom

from between her rumpled sheets.

 

                  (“Imperious bitch! the other thinks.

                  But says instead, “I’m coming, mother.”)

 

“Where the hell’s my toast and butter?

                           Jeez-us, but her coffee stinks.

And while you’re at it, fetch the dog.

“Where has he been?”

 

Says Lilith:

“Mother, Old Blue’s dead.”

“The hell you say,” her mother said.

“That can’t be right.

                              I heard him baying

“at the moon all night.”

 

Says Lilith from the bottom stair:

“Mother, mother, he’s not here.

“Old Blue died, he died so hard

“he shook the ground in our back yard.

“So I dug his grave with a silver spade,

“and with every spade I did call his name;

 

“I cried: Yah, Blue!

                              I cried, Come on, Blue!

“I cried, Hey, Blue;

                              you’re a good dog, you.

I cried, Blue! Blue!

                                I’m a-comin, too.”

 

Oh, well says her mother, “then it must have been you

“I heard wailing all night.

                                     Now I’m in such distress

“that I can’t eat a bite

                                  of my bacon and eggs.

“So throw them away or eat them yourself.

“I couldn’t care less.

                                Just turn out my light.”

 

And she did.

 

3RD OF THREE

In nomina Patri,

                            et Filius,

                                           et Spiritus Sancti.

                                                                         Omayn.

 

Around the well four sisters dance

                           (Kali, Lilith, Tinker and Chance)

Singing:

             “Father, Son and Holy Ghost,

“rise up, my love, and pinch the Host.”

 

Singing:

             “Four plus three plus two plus one;

“the sum is ten, our song is done.”

 

Protect us, Protector, from such as these

weird sisters, daughters of the trees,

who square the circle, ten by ten,

and spill the seed of sleeping men.

 

Protect us from the dogs that bark

in the silence of the dark.

 

Protect us from the Jub-Jub bird,

the Bandersnatch and Jabberwock.

 

Protect us, Mary’s little lamb,

David’s shield and Jacob’s rock.

 

                      Protege me, protegam te.

                      One plus one plus one is three.

                      And dost thou know who made thee?

                      Why the rooster crossed the road?

                      Why the princess kissed the toad?

                      Why the farmer in the dell

                       plants a row of cockle shell

                       with a candle, book and bell?

                       Why the Puss puts on the boot?

                       Why the shrieking mandrake root?

 

Largire mini us meum, ut te adiuvem,

the old crone croons, laying out the Tarot cards:

 

“Five of Cups, Five of Wands;

“The Tower and the Nine of Swords.

“Journey by water with a fool

“gains you the world, but loses your soul.

“Heed my words —

                                fast and pray.”

 

And signing the Cross, she flies away.

 

Cast the runes, turn the tricks,

blow on knots and pick up sticks;

swing the fowl above your head

by the neck until its dead.

 

                           Zeh halifasainu;

                                             zeh t’muratainu;

                                                          zeh kapporatainu.

 

Count the Omer, pray for dew,

consecrate the bread and wine;

 

He is coming, He is due,

as we near the end of time.

 

Brothers, sisters, dance with me;

both my hands I offer thee.

This way first, that way now,

then a curtsey and a bow.

 

                                                   Pesach, 1998

 

 

                                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

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BLACK DOG

March 15, 2007 at 2:35am (Poetry)

The Black Dog

sniffs at my heels

and snarls

too softly for comfort.

Black Dog, go home.

Go home!

                  I call upon

your master

to call you

home.

           O master of the Black Dog,

call your Black Dog home.

Call it off, call it home,

this Black Dog of yours

sniffing at my heels

and snarling softly

at my heels,

too softly for comfort.

          “I will strike your heel,”

the Black Dog says;

says the big Black Dog

sniffing at my heel;

          “And I will crush your head,”

says I to him who, poised to strike my heel,

hears his master’s voice afar off snarling,

Strike! Strike! Strike!

Strike the bloody goddamned kike!

Strike until his blood runs red.

That was what it said,

the Master said,

as it struck my heel

and I crushed its head

and our blood ran red

          so early in the morning.

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HOMAGE TO LILITH

March 2, 2007 at 3:05pm (Poetry)

 

Kali. Durga. Hecate. Lilith.

Names. Just names. But she,

She is the Gate of God,

and through her

one enters into God. 

Through the Mother

to the Father

to the Crown;

 

and from there? Where? Nitchevo.

                The lair of the serpent,

The cave of the bear,

the cloud of unknowing,

the empty box

filled with unknowing,

waiting for Pandora’s hand.

 

There! Look! Do you see it?

Nitchevo. Nitchevo. Nitchevo.

The nothing that is everything:

the silent tree falling in the forest,

the one hand clapping in the air.

 

                        Behind the thought;

behind the observer of the thought;

behind the observer observing

the observer observing the thought,

what is there?

                   A vast plentitude of the things of the  air. 

 

And I have seen them all (or less)

through the blind eye, the white eye

I have seen the other eye,

the eye not there,

the eye that sees what is not there,

the eye that looks at me, who is not here,

neither seeing nor seen by the things of the air.

Beware. Beware, those things of the air

that are not there, that are not there;

but like the bat, fly in your hair;

and like the bat, fly in your hair.

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SHEM HA-MEFORASH

February 23, 2007 at 10:01pm (Poetry)

Whisper this when you blow on knots:

               anaktam pastam paspasim

whistle it while walking past the grave yard

where the owl and the pussy cat set out to see

Athena in a beautiful pea green boat

      (and she, smeared with honey)

that the piggy-wig bought

for love and money

from the butcher

the baker

the candle stick maker

in another time, another place, another

                                                       two-cents plain, if you please

and

        step to the back of the bus, if you please;

make room, make room, if you please,

a highway for our God, if you please.

               (Again: Anaktam pastam paspasim)

Make room between the sheets,

between the dark and the daylight,

at the striking of the children’s hour,

when faces on the tick-tock glower

at Athena’s owl decapitating Hekat’s cat

like Itchy done in Scratchy with a baseball bat.

               (And yet again: Anaktam pastam paspasim)

Make room, make room

for goat and broom,

for eye of newt and tongue of toad,

and this dagger that I see before me,

its handle in my hand.

       Let me clutch thee, my beloved;

here, between the sheets,

in our beautiful pea green boat,

let me clutch thee

like a vision that I see before me,

let me clutch thee

in my hand.

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ADAM KADMON

February 15, 2007 at 2:45pm (Poetry)

 

See, but see not;

 

hear, but hear not.

 

Gone, that which was there to be seen;

 

gone, that which was there to be heard.

Gone, gone, gone;                           

                            gone to the other side

 

to wed the bride,

 

                              the groom has gone;

 

to stitch his side,

 

                              the groom has gone;

 

to steal the bride,

 

                              the groom has gone

 

to the other side.

                            

The night before, and with his hand,

 

                                                        (the left one, I believe)

 

he pulled her from that shore to this to cleave,

 

and verily, verily I say to you,

 

he did that thing such bridegrooms do:

 

he ate her flesh and drank her blood

 

and wallowed in the slummery mud

 

and squealed and grunted like a pig

 

and gorged on garbage in the sty

 

          (beware her teeth; beware her eye)

 

and ate her flesh and drank her blood

 

          (verily, verily Mistress Merrily)

 

’till clock struck one and down they come,

 

and all was gone, both he and she,

 

and all was gone that there could be;

 

and all was one.

 

                             Come see.

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FOR THE COWS

February 12, 2007 at 2:29pm (Poetry)

God? You asked me who you are.

        “Who do people say I am?”  you said.

Both horse and plough, you are, I said.

Both tiller and the fields you till, you are

to me who counts the numbers on the beast,

and is both least and most.

        Jeezus! Listen to that old fart boast.

I tell you this in confidence:

                                              I’ve warned him; yes, I have.

You must behave,

                               I’ve said,

and let the dead consume their dead, I’ve said.

But does he listen? No.

He only stares ahead and says to me

(or whatever he is staring at I cannot see)

“Will it snow?

                       I like the snow.”

I’m tired now. But sleep eludes me

more and more these days

and nights, too,

and what falls between.

When the voice from underneath the bed has said

“You are dying, Jew;

                                if not already dead.”

And what am I to do?

What am I to say?

What am I to do or say

to silence the speaker speaking under the bed?

To keep him under the bed? Or off the bed?

Shall I say,

                 “Leave me and go haunt the dead?”

Or,  “Don’t mistake me for the dead?”

But there’s no mistake:

we are already dead,

                                    or dieing.

Except the ones whom I admire, who keep on trying,

who keep on searching for desire

in the night dark,

        the bedroom dark,

                the bed dark,

                        behind the eyelids dark.

Trying. trying. trying.

While the rest of us are dieing. dieing. dieing

in the dark,

        the night dark,

                the bedroom dark,

                        the bed dark,

                                behind the eyelids dark.

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BA’AL SHEM TOV

February 12, 2007 at 2:23pm (Poetry)

When the learned rabbis asked me,

“What prayer is pleasing

                  to the Holy One, Blessed be He?”

I answered: Fervor.

                      Fervor in the morning;

in the afternoon, also fervor;

and at night,

                       a man and woman

laughing.

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SEFIROT 10

February 12, 2007 at 2:15pm (Poetry)

Daniel rows his boat ashore,

from across the other side;

Mother Mary at the door

stands beside the fallen bride.

Fallen, fallen,

        they all have fallen

                into the dust.

Face of Faces, face us now,

bless and keep us as before;

turn and, turning, turn our hearts

from the sickle to the plow.

Fallen, fallen,

        the King has fallen

                into the dust.

Bring the joyful harvest in,

all things end where they begin,

with an angel and a pin,

with an angel on a pin.

Fallen, fallen,

        the Queen has fallen

                into the dust.

Have mercy on us, Lamb of God,

do not lead us into sin,

spare us from thy father’s rod.

All things end where they begin;

All things end where they begin.

Fallen, fallen,

        the Bride has fallen

                into the dust.

All things end where they begin:

angels dancing on a pin,

faces facing from above

as they sacrifice the dove,

the goat, the heifer and the lamb

to the one who says, I am;

for the one who says, I am.

Fallen, fallen,

        the Groom has fallen

                into the dust.

Hunter, hunter burning bright

in the stairway of the night,

rinse your mouth and wash your hands;

lock the door, turn out the light.

Tomorrow you will make amends;

tomorrow you will set it right.

Fallen, fallen,

        we all have fallen

                 into the dust.

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RIFFING ON THE MERMAIDS

February 9, 2007 at 7:07pm (Poetry)

 I am dry and shriven, shaven of the head among the stars 

Abraham looked down upon and saw 

spread out like crumbs of bread  cast upon the water 

        (and Jill came tumbling after)  

An old man in an old bed 

         (”For God sakes, change the sheets,” she said.) 

a dry man in a damp place 

waiting for some signs of grace to appear 

at the bottom of the teacup, 

on the anvil of the ear, 

in the faceless face 

that time and time again 

(and again. and again. and again) 

                          – insistent as time; 

                          – inevitable as rhyme; 

crashes on my face like waves on rocks 

and leaks like blood from rocks 

from the corners of my eyes 

and the creases of my hand. 

         Ain’t it grand? Oh, ain’t it grand? 

this immoveable feast of sea and sand

 

spread out against the sky 

like a patient choking on the table. 

           (They are coins that were his eyes) 

And are we able? 

able to withstand 

the pearls that were his eyes 

buried in the sand? 

the promises and lies

 

clutched in a clinched hand, buried in the sand? 

       (Beware the Jabberwock, my son, 

the eyes that peel, the hands that scratch; 

beware the Jubjub thug and shun 

the luminous Bandersnatch) 

      — Oh, ain’t it grand, boys? 

      — Ain’t it grand?

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