This time of ours
Reminds me of all that I have
And all that I have lost at the same time,
The many-faced memories
Flow like tears
That come more easily
And unexpectedly now
Like the ghosts of loved ones
In a fever dream.
The enemy, like god is all around us
And god lifts not a finger to stop it
Or answer the prayers of any supplicant
Like Nadav and Avihu
When ‘heavenly fire entered their nostrils
And burned their souls’*
Such fire burns hot and is unquenched
And we thirst for a salvation,
And though it is tarrying
We still believe,
That science will be our messiah
And god a luxury
We can return to
Once we can think again
About something other than survival.
*Rashi (CE 1040-1105)
Will anyone remember how I placed the empty mug
On our bannister
At the top of the stairs.
Like everything now,
It was waiting
Like all of us,
To be cleansed
To be filled
To be emptied
And start again.
Today is my 60th birthday.
For milestone birthdays in the past, I used to leave the country from time to time.
At my 30th I went to Israel,
At my 50th Brazil,
And now, I can’t even leave my house.
I could have spent $100m and had myself shot into space
Though with Lily going to college in the fall,
Spending that money on anything else right now wouldn’t be wise.
Adventure is now defined as going to the supermarket.
Living dangerously would be doing that without a mask and gloves.
Though I’ve reached the age when I can now go at 6 AM
The modern equivalent of putting me out on an ice flow
Or an alternate to adult day care.
All for the sake of making my Neanderthal ancestors proud of
My Hunting and gathering skills.
I’d like to say ‘next year in Jerusalem’
But I’d really like to get to tomorrow first.
The angel of death wears a MAGA hat
And commends the work
Of his marketing and rebranding director
As they synchronize
Their Apple Watches to close
The circles of hell.
The charnel house market is about to boom and
He’ll offer the best capacity at top dollar prices
He’ll pocket the profits and stiff the contractors unless they’re stiffs already.
Even the angel of death might have an ethical quandry with this.
Our differences fade at the cemetery gate
Where we’re being processed like bottles at a redemption center
Where It means nothing unless he can pocket the deposits
And crow about his ratings
about how he’s the best
And if you look for salvation behind an artificial tan
You might as well be dead already
Like the space behind those eyes.
We humans used to live in colonies like Purple Martins
But now, if you come within six feet of us
We are skittish like the rarest Warbler.
In the future; tomorrow and the foreseeable days thereafter,
Our children will become people watchers
Cataloguing all the neighborhood types,
Like the Blue-bellied Mail Carrier
Or the UPS Driver with their brown plumage
Who drops packages like the old Cowbird, their eggs
In your nest.
More adventurous children will venture out with their “People Magazines”
Trying to seek out rare life sightings of the Sexiest Man alive
Or a common Kardashian, often without plumage.
The most cherished sightings occur when grandma and grandpa appear
On their nest cams, cozy and safe, reaching out to hug or kiss empty space
While decorating their nest with a holiday table that won’t be filled with their
little hungry birds,
As in other days, and different nights.
The deaf blacksmith
Rendered in silent iron the wagon wheels
that they now walked behind
with ever larger ruts
that would eventually hold the whole village.
It’s the shabbes of comfort
When “the rugged shall be made level,
And the rough places a plain;….and all flesh shall see it together….”
He never heard the one that hit him
Hearing wouldn’t have helped they say,
“all the flesh shall see it together”
And all did that hot day, thick with mosquitoes and flies
And a pestilence of lead.
The winds blow through the fallow fields
Tearing at the roots of the waving grass
Though grass is stronger than the winds that whip it
And the many blades hold firm defiantly
We shall not be moved again!
*“all flesh is grass
And all the goodliness thereof is
As the flower of the field;
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth;
Because the breath of the Lord bloweth upon it---
Surely the people is grass.”
Byten was a town in what is now Belarus where family members were martyred during WWII. The deaf blacksmith was my great-grandfather.