Friday, December 23, 2005

Happy Chanukah!

Menorah - Michoel Muchnik

Thursday, December 22, 2005

An Arab Shepherd is Searching for His Goat on Mount Zion

An Arab shepherd is searching for his goat on Mount Zion
And on the opposite hill I am searching for my little boy.
An Arab shepherd and a Jewish father
Both in their temporary failure.
Our two voices met above
The Sultan's Pool in the valley between us.
Neither of us wants the boy or the goat
To get caught in the wheels
Of the "Had Gadya" machine.

Afterward we found them among the bushes,
And our voices came back inside us
Laughing and crying.

Searching for a goat or for a child has always been
The beginning of a new religion in these mountains.

- Yehuda Amichai

Monday, December 19, 2005

Beautiful cover art by Ivan Schwebel. Get this book.
God Has Pity on Kindergarten Children

God has pity on kindergarten children,
He pities school children -- less.
But adults he pities not at all.

He abandons them,
And sometimes they have to crawl on all fours
In the scorching sand
To reach the dressing station,
Streaming with blood.

But perhaps
He will have pity on those who love truly
And take care of them
And shade them
Like a tree over the sleeper on the public bench.

Perhaps even we will spend on them
Our last pennies of kindness
Inherited from mother,

So that their own happiness will protect us
Now and on other days.

-- Yehuda Amichai

Perhaps the best poetry i've read in some time. He captures something about being human, just being, in a world where God is so intrinsic. It’s as though he’s God-In-All-His-Glory’s annoyed roommate, who can’t get past the dishes piling up in the sink and doesn’t get the worshipping masses at their door and is just trying to get through the day and find his very own reason for living.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Here's a piece i modeled off of some young Amiri Baraka stuff (Back when he was Leroi Jones):

Golden Circles

Quiet night & I’m biking home
up a long, wet hill.
Cars pass me by in the sweet leaf fog
and another biker.
it’s dark & we ride, synchronized
without realizing it.
The street lights spread golden
circles hazy across the night, through
the sound of breath like heavy mist
tired shoulders, shifting gears, golden

Love your fellow as you love
your self says the Bible/Koran/Gospels
The Vargas & The Analects.
you/we can/can’t.
Love your fellow.
Love you’re self.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Rabbi With Torah, Hyman Bloom. (Hat tip to Mentalblog's postings on Hyman Bloom for the inspiration.)
Simchat Torah

You’d suppose I would feel you—could feel you
Step up and take you up, skin to shoulder.
We swing in circles—men march, step, spin through
Fingers smashed against oak, chin to shoulder

Do you think I’m worthy? Do you cringe your
leather skin and wooden bones? Would you strike
me down? I’ve sinned you know. You do. Singed your
happy holy holiday with my likes.

I’m barely here you know. My heavy thing
Head wedged to back, sweat, songs and velvet smells
Breath—crushing circles of men, dance and sing
and I’m barely here you know. You know well

But you love me anyway don’t you? I
can feel it as I step up to lift you.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

One of the most haunting and up to date songs in the Hasidic repetoire. The English reads like a modern poem, and is equally powerful, so I did my best to translate it here.

Stav Ya Pitu

I started to drink on Friday.
By Sabbath I had drunk
had drunk my shirt away.

Mustn’t one drink
to chat?
To smile and wave?
One must try
must learn
to be genial.

Oh! How do you give
that just account
before your Headmaster!

Oh! To justify oneself!

We drink
we drink and we raise hell.
And we take back whiskey like water
and we yell together
arms over shoulders


And you, O Lord, please consider us
consider us in Heaven.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Three Additions to the Blogroll today:

israellycool - great israel info
DovBear - that's my name!
mentalblog - interesting site, and never a sweeter webmaster.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Starry Night

Another flash on the skyline. Israeli planes in the black sky firing missiles, bing bang boom on Ramallah a thousand miles away in my mind, six miles as the bird of war flies, lighting up the horizon as we do shots of Absinthe on the roof of our apartment.

Absinthe tastes like licorice, like electric liqueur, gets you lacquered, that’s for sure. Better than Israeli weed, that’s for sure. Makes you forget. I lay back and hear the thrum of missiles in the distance, and with each vibration shaking through the eternal city I see the stars blur and coalesce!

Van Gogh! Would that you had kept your ear intact! Or wouldn’t you have traded it for Dayan’s eye? For his foresight? For sure not. Where is your mutilated face now, o’ God of the poet warrior? In those stars? In my bottle? In those nails embedded in your O’ rock of David?

Zion! Mighty mountain top twisting streets screaming sirens red eyed teens in tight jeans cavorting then boom dying then boom crying then boom drinking absinthe on rooftops, watching the blipping lights light the sky with vengeance.

Jerusalem! You twelve tiered tribal palisade! You violently shuddering sandstone gleam in the eye of whose God?! Would that Moses or Mohammad moved a little to the left! Your stones twirl tonight beneath my gaze. Stop!

Solemn prayers for your loss. You sad bloodstained tennis shoe. Electric Body parts picked, picked apart and put together by neon jacketed black and white Hasidim like bees in latex gloves, bees with mouths moving in prayer, sidelocks and sad eyes.

Pasty faced Hassidim, black hated, coats in summer, smelling like stale sweat and good god, hurry through the city to the old wall. Always hurrying, sidelocks flying behind you on your bicycle, you blond and blue eyed German Jew. You freckled red headed son of David, you dark skinned brother of Ishmael.

I’m sorry Ramallah, tonight on the roof top I can’t see you. I can’t see through the burnt busses and biweekly booms that mean someone somewhere is slipping into those oblivion stars in a painful blast of boiling nails and shrapnel is a word of war and warriors but not poets.

Good bye sweet sunburnt village streets of Ramallah. Little children pointing sticks like guns as we pass. Little soldiers, little martyrs.

Goodbye sweet Ben Yehuda Street. Muddy khaki night street traversed by doe eyed pilgrims. Spiky haired discothèque pilgrims. Little soon to be soldiers. Later martyrs.

Peace unto you, o’ Jerusalem! Peace unto your quarreling cousins, peace unto your hilltop youth, your valley girls and yeshiva boys. Your ratty haired, yellow skinned crazy sons, who walk the streets at night believing they are the messiah. Too much acid and too much god on these cobbled road, neon and sandstone, and praise Allah! we are all your prophets!

Come to the wall and pray, then. Pray to God to restore his eternal house, his official edifice, his office, where You can take all our queries at once and respond to a thousand souls in a Booming voice. But be careful god, please be careful with your booms.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Yom Kippur with the Innkeeper

Host of hosts
Host with the most undeniable most.
Most holy Host.
It’s that time of the year,
Isn’t it?

Sin is so easy. Sin.
Why isn’t there a
Single word for Good Deed.
Like Sin?

You’ve certainly not kept
Your side of the bargain
(And a Jew bargains well, but
you know that)

I have failed miserably at mine.
Though I have reasons,
Always reasons, and good ones too.
At least they seemed so,
Seemed so at the time.

What say we wipe the slate clear,
A Tabula Rasa as it were.
We’ll hug awkwardly,
Like old friends, long parted
Sighing over misdeeds of the past.

I missed you, God.