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mydesirelines Sep 29
In their eyes
she, is the holy river
and I, am a doubtful sinner.

I drowned myself
deep in Ganges.

Now she, is a holier-than-thou
and I, am a confessed sinner.
Ghats of Banaras, in India, is a holy place where Ganga river is washing sins of many from thousands of year.
Who punishes?
Who is punished?
It's all in the game
One remain in their frame
Tormentor can torment
There's no atonement
**** remains always ****
It's never a hit
Lens may zoom in on a beautiful face
Does it mean
It's in the race?
Learn to live with grace
One day there wouldn't
Be a trace
Nat Lipstadt Aug 11

~for Isabel (‘30), Alexander (‘31), and Wendy (‘35)~


In a place of perfect solitude,
No crowded synagogue within to hide,
No cantor to intercede on my behalf,
I spoke words of mine own creation
To my Creator
Who wisely empowers me
To judge myself, for knowing,
None harsher

We two,
Old travel companions,
Upon worn grayed, Adirondack thrones,
We overlooked
A natural prayer place,
Bay and breeze, white-clouded, sun-laced.
Only the full time inhabitants,
the animals,
Grayling butterflies to match and contrast,
Eavesdropping on our Greek dialogo,
In this holy place,
Palace of Perfect Solitude

Amiable did we chat,
I, of family, this and that

wearied from recent travel,
To Syria and India,
Was glad for a day off,
For He had little to do,
But wait for twilight,
To then close the books

For us no formality, easy the going,
No prosecutor, no defender in residence,
For we exchanged these roles intermittently,
The incriminatory, the penance, all deeds displayed,
No adult games of winking eyes, and
Hidden heart, secret chambers,
Rabbinical or angelic intercession

He does so love his Bach,
Adagio on strings,
My soothing gift to him,
This music more than divine

He returned this courtesy

Warming sun to expose my chest,
Cooling genteel breeze offsetting,
sunset color palette spectacular,
The bay emptied of wayfaring skiffs and yachts.

A cooling beverage proffered,
But sighing, He said that he had yet to find
A beverage that could ever slake
his kind of thirst

For his eyes, tho shining, did not effervesce,
As when we shared this day in years past

Too much killing, this year,
It tires Me so to tabulate human excess,
Spoke not a word, for my critique would
Comfort him less,
if at all

Thanks for Kol Nidre, He plainted,
So I too can disavow,
The best intended oaths I took and take,
For each year, I fail more than the year before.

If only I could sit with each,
As I do with you,
Where what needs saying,
Is said, understood,
Undisguised as praying

A schooner to the dock did appear,
For Him it attended, for Him, it waited,
Sails, wind whipped,
Sails, both black and white.

He stood to depart, my arms-he-grasped,
Me-taken, he-graphing,
Measuring my fortitude, the strength,
of my divine spark

I do so love this day in your company.
I shall sit with you again one year on,
Bach sweet, when next we meet, please

Soft spoke, as almost I should not hear,
Your time is nigh, no thing I create is forever.
He spoke with such sadness,
For well I knew, the intent, his meaning.

for-himself, saddened, for he loved
Sitting beside me in this manner,
Since my inception, never a deception

Only He resting easy,
when He atoned before me,
And I gave him His absolution conditional,
As he gave me,
You are loved,
you are blessed.
In Christ's righteousness,
you are dressed.
Nat Lipstadt Aug 11
In the year 2016,
Yom Kippur was celebrated on Oct. 12th.
Leonard Cohen passed away on November 7th.


faint knocking heard at the heavenly door of the Tower of Song

the ministering angels, hearing a rhythmic,
lyrical rapping, sigh, thinking the atonement day,
the holiday/holy days, are supposedly over,
the human balancing act, the rush to judgement period,
all tallies totaled, the busy sale season for souls,
at last completed, each fate inscribed & sealed,
in the book of life^

but, always one,
the itinerant straggler, the last reluctant sinner,
a judgment resister, flaunting an almost expired coupon,
trumpeting demands for a recount, waving it,
claiming it, the bearer, entitled to a
mercy discount and an extra 30 days

"who shall we say is calling?"

the Angels are stunned to hear the responsa,
a familiar raspy, growling, almost indescribable,
yet, stammeringly beautiful voice enchanting,
equally asking and answering, (how both?)
with a strident humility, "a man in search of answers"

this voice, instantaneous recognizable,
the asking superfluous,
all beating wings now, all in vast excitement,
this psalmist, long awaited, one of His best,
a chosen one, a courtly singer in the Temple of his people,
blessed with the curse of seeing and believing,
the comprehension of beauty of the human superior interior,
never being quiet or quite satisfied,
in capturing, its multifarious variations,
in every language spoken

this is the man who took ten years
to compose just
one song,
one poem,
one word,
whose faith was strong,
but still needed proofs,
whose every breath of oxygen inhalation,
brought more questions,
every exhalation, only releasing partial answers,
and yet, still, yes, yes! finding hidden verses inside

a simple, everlasting

the hubbub subsides,
the man sings~speaks:
how came I here,
was I one, who by fire?
that fire afeared, that my finality
was spirit consumed?

in one voice, answers the angelic choir,
in one voice, the swaying back-up singers answer,
not by fire, not by water, not by stoning
or even drowning,
in tea that came from all the way from China

when sing we Angels,
the Judgement Day poem,
we alone, on high and above,
we, keepers of the books
and records of everyone,
are permitted this special query:

Who by Sufficiency?

you, the sidekick of the creator,
special commissioned by him, anointed to live a life of research,
record in word and song the mysteries of musical gene strings,
that intertwine the skin cells of man and woman,
man and his fellow us-human,
your soul commandeered, ordered, to delve deeper,
into the consolable chasm tween divine and mortals,
all those who are so poorly but perfectly constructed
in his image

you, who has earned his place, his best rest,
his works adjudged sufficient,
you, who best answered
this judging,
this calling out,
this calling in

Who by Sufficiency?

now forward on, write only of answers,
wade in the troubled waters no more,
no more passports, or borders to cross,
no more measuring the days,
the last road trip finale
finished & feted,
fate meted

no more changing thy name, changeling priest,^^
sing songs of solution, salvation,
for the questioning hours of confusion,
the urgency of revolution,
no longer need a hallelujah resolution,
you have been judged sufficient...
it is his will

                                                    | | |
Who By Fire                             Who By Fire, Who By Water:^
(lyrics by Leonard Cohen)     (A Yom Kippur Hebrew Prayer)

who by fire                             How many shall die and      

who by water,                                how many shall born,
Who in the sunshine,                 Who shall live      
who in the night time,                   who shall die,                      
Who by high                                Who at the measure of days,
who by common trial,                    and who before,
Who in your merry                            
                                                          Who by fire
month of May,                                 and who by water
Who by very                                 Who by sword,
slow decay,                                       and who by wild beasts,
And who shall I                      Who by hunger,
say is calling?                              and who by thirst,

And who in her,                           Who by earthquake
lonely slip,                                         and who by plague
who by barbiturate,                      Who by strangling,
Who in these                                    and who by stoning
realms of love,                               Who shall have rest,

who by,                                             and who shall go wandering,
something blunt,                            Who will be tranquil,
And who by avalanche,                  and who shall be harassed,
who by powder,                            Who shall be at ease,
Who for his greed,                           and who shall be afflicted,
who for his hunger,                      Who shall become rich,
And who shall I,                             and who shall become poor,
say is calling?                                Who will be raised high,
                                                         ­     and who will be brought low
And who by brave assent,                  
who by accident,
Who in solitude,
who in this mirror,
Who by,
his lady's command,
who by his own hand,
Who in mortal chains,
who in power,
And who shall I,
say is calling?

^From the liturgy of Rosh Hasanah, the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur, the  Day of Atonement, there is this truly stunning prayer ( in the Jewish liturgy. The Book of Life contents the fate of every sinner. From the first day of the new year, until ten days later, on Yom Kippur, depending on whether the sinner repents or not, his fate is sealed.
this first version first published Jan. 2017

^^"A Kohens ancestors were priests in the Temple of Jerusalem. A single such priest was known as a Kohen, and the hereditary caste descending from these priests is collectively known as the Kohanim.[2] As multiple languages were acquired through the Jewish diaspora, the surname acquired many variations." Today, with no temple, the limited role of the Kohanim is to bless the Jewish people on the high holy days with a  special prayer with abeloved tune,  instantly evocative (see The Kohanim are still revered, honored, and always called up first to the Sabbath reading of the weekly portion of the Old Testament

A thank you to Bex for proofing and encouragement.
Part I of a trilogy
For a  more detailed analysis of the roots of the song, "Who By Fire," and its origins, see:

He worked on the song Hallelujah, arguably his most famous composition, for ten years.
Jordan Gee Aug 2
I foot the ladder
I called upon the wheat
I called upon the spaces where only an ibex can stand
I called upon the swollen silence, the space between the keys
I called upon the distended bulb of awkward air that is my usher unto
the people of this world.
I called upon God to change my purpose for me
but all I saw were white shapes in the darkness.
he had sent his heralds with the long horns and bugles
the thrones and cherubim suspended like a women’s pearls about the neck
but i was too deaf and hard of seeing
on what was happening in my day to day
in my aloneness
in my facebook messages
in my bank account.
I thought the die was cast and so
I rode their mercy like an uncut Arabian steed.
I was young and my shadow was a
bad foretelling -
like worms drowning on the pavement-
like an empty soul factory in the bathroom stall.
but I’m on borrowed time like a black cat dream on
the narrows and the cobblestones.
like how a broken broom breaks all gypsy curses,
black cat dreams are never wrong, and
in the deep statecraft of my undoing I’m almost sorry for
what I asked for.
See, there are two of me and they are crowing
I know not which one bodes the ill intent and which one wields the cyanide.
but both are mostly indolent in their listening
to the building of the gallows.
Every breath is a fatality
Every hand full of dirt is a genesis
and I can hear the hangman at the gallows.
Let Justice Be Done, Though The Heavens Fall
and i’ll go see my brother on the water.
halfway up the sky he’ll build eternity outside of time,
and I will foot the ladder.
birds of hollow bone they herald my undoing,
planting white lilies in my heart.
by the building of the gallows I will foot the ladder
sometimes there are only hammers
sometimes all I see are nails.
where is the healing balm in this dreamscape that I invented?
he’s holding sulfur in his death hand.
I looked up and asked him for a bright lantern
I asked him to keep this pen alive and to fix me to his liking
I asked him for a bamboo raft worthy of the rapids.
I told him that when I was in California I was so sad I couldn't see the ocean.
I asked him that if I were to give penance
could he take these tumors in his hands.
all i saw were reflections of him smiling
like long eclipses on comanche moons.
I heard the gears of the clock all grinding but the hands were spinning loose.
I wanted to be home then, but he said I already was. And then he told me:
You are the gallows and the hammers
You are the black cat and broken brooms
You are the pavement and the worms and
the drowning and the nails
You are the lilies and the wheat
You are your brother and his dreaming
You are the cyanide and the birds.
but i’ve so much invested already in the crawling
in and out of beds
that all there is left to do is
foot the ladder till I'm no longer deaf to the horse's mouth,
to the screaming of the diad in their forgetting of their
Of their Atonement
Of their dreaming of the dream.
Billie Marie Jul 17
The point of pain
is to get you to notice
if your trigger warnings
to flee the scene.
And what’s that saying?
You want to see a victim
without help.
Who is the one snickering in the corner
pretending one didn’t eat all the cookies
leaving one’s neighbor to starve.
I see your passive headlights.
Super-flu-us of your own designs.
You only wish you could get to me
so you try to take my place instead.
How can one take another place
before finding one’s own?
Or supplant another’s home
without upending your own?
Foolish child hiding one’s own true heart
to be seen as a star
by putting on stuff that appears like stardust
blingy and bright but without any real light
of its own being created pure and supreme.
Somehow I see I’m already living the dream.
But you look and see
your projected screams onto me
and you can’t embrace what I bring
because what would that make
what you invested in saying?
Hold onto those words
to the bitterest ending
pretending the darker the chocolate
the better the berry.
It’s all finer still in the end
cuz no end is ever approaching
except the end you imagined for me
in your own dark hidden and ***** corners.
But what you don’t get
when you **** that trigger happy smile
is that the end is only real
from your own POV.
So you’ll be mulling
and overturning
with a smirk and clinked glasses
while I am always
and forever
only reposing in bliss
that you keep forever missing
Glenn Currier Mar 31
The life of parents is gauged in teaspoons
of sweat, vinegar, blood and tears
in early mornings and tire of late afternoons
all collected in a cup of salvation for years.

Small sufferings and moments of pain
become sacrifice for a child’s little sins
so the youth won’t suffer the blame,
cost of loss, but the joy of life’s wins.

All these payments made without wrath
may never be repaid to them in their time
but lessons taught will etch a path
for a child to grow up into its prime.

Anyone who loves the unkind
or selfish or one who has spurned
virtue or left goodness behind
pays debts the errant don’t earn.
Dedicated to Kevin Williford in honor of his forthcoming work: Serving in the Lord’s Blackberry Patch.
Anya Mar 10
His hands shake as they grip the edge of the bima.

It was not always like this. Once
His fingers tapped spry and nimble,
His knuckles did not gnarl and swell,
Spots dotted his face in freckles and not his skin as it aged.
His right knee twinges. He swallows dry.
Perhaps he should visit a doctor.  It is not wise, they tell him,
For a man his age to continue his work under such pressure -- he simply laughs it off.
Pah. Meshugge, you are.
He maintains, he will manage, his kind were built to endure.

His kind have walked miles in red sand that burned the soles of their feet.
His kind have strained their eyes to see the hazy shape of hope
In lamplight that burned eight days too long;
His kind stood tall in front of kings and pharaohs and Führers
That ordered them to kneel, bow, lay dead, rot beneath ten feat of Earth.
His kind broke their backs to remain steady on their own two feet --
Who is he to fail them by resting now?

He can certainly stand on a bima, facing a congregation that has come to expect
The sound of his voice, passion in his words,
The life in his eyes glowing behind a cloud of cataracts
(I do not need to see, he claims, to recite the words of Hashem; I read with my heart.)
Like candles through a foggy window,
Tinted glass distorted,
Faint chanting ringing from within.

Kol Nidrei.
He had to break fast this morning -- God forgive me, I did not want to --
I’d rather have died. But pills must be taken.
He scans his audience and knows others must have taken pills of their own:
They are old. No one lives forever.
His joints ache as theirs do,
They too feel the weight of seventy, eighty years settled in their bones
Like rocks, like sediment,  
Shifting with the current of the river that teems above them.
Such is the will of God.
They will be carried upstream when their time comes.

Ve’esarei, ush’vuei,
A glass of water rests on the floor at his feet,
Already half drained --
Droplets still sit moist on his lips.
Vacharamei, vekonamei,
He is a humble man, as all of Hashem’s servants should be --
He is blessed with dexterity unusual for his age.
He has no cause to complain, and yet even on the day of atonement,
Deep within his chest burns pride.
He is scared.
Vekinusei, vechinuyei,
Adonai, please,
Give me the strength.
I know why I hesitate.

He fears his voice will catch in his throat --
Will waver, will break to cough,
That the silver in his tone has tarnished,
That his pitch will strain, fall flat,
That his voice is not fit to sing God’s words,
That this chant will be his last.
That he will have to stop.

Kol Nidrei. All Vows.
He is nothing but a man. He is a mouthpiece for the words that pour out of him,
That float through the synagogue as they’ve floated for years upon years.
If he silences himself, he has no purpose.
If he silences himself, he is already unfit to sing God’s words.
He must begin without fear:
His kind know how to endure without fear. It is in their blood.
His mournful voice sings for them.
He takes a breath. The congregation holds theirs.

Kol Nidrei.
Ve’esarei, ush’vuei, vacharamei, vekonamei, vekinusei, vechinuyei.
Prohibitions, oaths, consecrations, vows that we may vow --
His voice is his vow.
He vows his life, the rest of his year, however many those may be, he pledges all of them,
That he may stand before his people in front of him,
And sing to his people that lived behind him.
Kol Nidrei.
All vows.
His voice soars and echoes off of the ceiling of the synagogue.
Jack Torrance Oct 2019
As I sit here by myself,
I try to write these words.
I try to force them into sense,
and make them not sound absurd.

I used to transfer pain,
through the tip of this pen.
Pouring out the poison,
so that I could think again.

I used to bask in the hollow,
that the transfer left behind.
Breathing in the silence,
of a defragmented mind.

Then one day I wrote something,
and set back to enjoy the peace,
but the transfer didn’t happen,
and the noise seemed to increase.

It was like instead of hitting transfer,
my mind hit copy instead.
It was there on the page,
but it was still in my head.

I began to panic,
with every poem I wrote.
The poison wouldn’t leave,
and it was coating my throat.

I began to notice teardrops,
and that my words were blurred.
I never even knew I was crying,
but my brain was slurred.

Whatever this is,
it’s taken hold of me.
It won’t allow me the pleasure,
of setting my thoughts free.

So I’m slowly filling up,
and tipping more each day.
One day I’ll crash over,
and this debt will be paid.

I think that’s the reason,
that I can’t force it out.
I have sins to atone for,
ones I can’t forget about.
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