Sunday, November 26, 2006

From: Ammung the Ruwenz ov the Tempel, I Herd...

I have always felt that everything that can be known, is revealed in the waves of the ocean...

Open Wun Skroel, Enter the Ferst Wave
               Shabbat Pesukh khoel Ha-mowaed 5760
               Shakhreet Shemmona Esray

And then I kame tu the Grate See.
And the darkness in the forres
Reseeded intu oek shrub
And yello flowwer brume.
Then sharp ej beech grass rubbd my shinz,
And the roer ov brakerz washt akross my fase.

My foutprints krosst the beech in her singing,
Her armz spred wide with fraktel pattern tallit*.
               *shawl; sandz
She dessendz and the wotterz rize up tu her,
Erasing the kruwelteez that hav echt thaer furroez
Intu her fase. Re-riets her histerree evree momen.
Unkovverz her seel in salm an immerzhen.

I lay with her, lips tu her lips,
Brest tu my brest; the shape ov my boddee
Imprest in her Soel, an expans ov sand.
The see sang its versez tu me by thowzendz,
Wave after wave, vers after vers,
Storee after storee, letter after letter,
Era after era, the brakerz the song,
Reveeled tu eech Soel and tu all the werldz,
And hu evver iz reddee tu approech tu lissen.

I gaezd on the skroelz unroeling befor me
Trying tu interpret thaer infinnit voise.
Eech skroel az it opend reveeld ferther skroelz,
Eech werd expanding tu hewman lievz,
Eech skroel re-roeling and klozing at my feet,
Swerling a foming arrownd my aenkelz.

I reecht down tu gather and lift up a handful.
Between my feengerz a dimend kaskade.
I splash my fase, senshuwus and koeld.

The songz kaskaden; thay rize and re-spirel,
And I, huze steps will be eraest frum the beech,
Konkluden my praerz, I steppt back and bow.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A message from beyond the body

This poem won an award in the 2005 Reuben Rose International Competition.

Tahharra: Borderz
               begun 10 Tishray, 5764
Frum I, hu am not,
Tu yu, hu ar not;
I, hu hav seest tu be
Tu yu, hu ar no mor.

Havving taken wun step up the infinnit ladder
Owwer lumennus boddeez tranzmit thaer knowenz...
     A bowndree ov C,
     Ware we stand, this side
     Ov the ark ov the Lor.

With theze eyz
     The long ark ov dezzerted beech
     Seen frum on hi, the Truro duenz.
     And the koeld Atlantek, ultra mareen,
     Rippeld in the tenshenz ov plannettaree moeshenz.
     Between the infinnit graenz ov sand
     And the kolapsing waevz ov rezistless momentum,
     A thin wite line of lasee foem,
     Swaying and swerling a dellikut border...
That iz the kerten, and behiend it I stand,
The not me of lite in the not yu ov lite
Within the arken Torrah and Divvine gaetwayz.

With eyz kuvverd by karben** shardz
               ** utherz say "potterree"
     The Hi Preest prepaerz,
     Hiz breth groez shallo.
     Hiz fase deth pale, handz almoest fleshless,
     Hiz skin tranzlusen az skraept parchmen.
     Kloethd in a robe ov fine woven kotten,
     A brusht wite brokade and thik kotten belt.
     A brusht wite skull kap, kotten brokade
          Its dansing liyonz and leeping deer.
     Hiz naelz ar klippt, hiz wite beerd trimmd,
     He immerst 3 tiemz in a chill mikvah.**
               ** ritchuwel baething

     The Hi Preest prepaerz.
     He seesez tu breeth;
     The waevlike moeshen ov hiz puls groez long.
     He taeks a last step, an endless instant
     Az he enterz the ark ov Divvine Prezzens.

That iz the kerten, and behiend it I stand,
The not me ov lite in the not yu ov lite,
Boddeez ov lite within the tranzlusent arks ov Torrah.

Friday, November 10, 2006

RE: the poem: Guerden ov Addomz (see 10/26/06)

Reb Rick Kool wrote to me, asking:

So what is it that is written in our cells that we drag up the hill? The search for the peaceful place, the search for the garden with food (all kinds of foods for mind and body), or is it that our cells tell us to stir up dust?

In answering him, I thought maybe it would be of interest to all of you, so here it is:

I guess I would have to answer that, on the first level, the poem attempts to unlock these kind of questions, rather than provide answers. But then again, I hate writers that spew out the copped-out, bullshit company line that "art and literature have no meaning except what each reader/viewer gives it." That's just so much hogwash in a bucket.

So I am glad if this poem inspires questions, but if that's all it does, it's a failure. If art/literature is to be more than decoration or entertainment, if it is to take leadership responsibility for making this world a better place, the author must be able to clearly convey intentions (in-tensions) and meanings, and not merely create questions, ambiguities, and bizarreties.

Technically, I am merging/superimposing into a single picture a few worlds: 1) this, the one we see with our eyes; 2) the after-death state which we cannot see at all with any certainty; 3) the Biblical-spiritual world that provides us with images of some kind of original (or pre-world) paradise, that may also be, 4) a Divine state of peace and perfection that is immanent but hidden.

We are the tillers of this soil, this world, but yet we hardly know what fruit it is we grow or harvest. Indeed, we are so busy, so overwhelmed even, with the details, that we hardly have the time, much less the vision, to contemplate what, if any, are the enduring impacts of our presence and our work here. We have hardly the time or the vision to consider that, as many believe, we stand in the Presence of the Divine, and yet, grievously, we see with our eyes how shameless our behavior can be. Many also believe the Messiah has come, and yet, grievously, we see with our eyes that these are not Messianic times, at least by any definition I can understand.

Perhaps with these kinds of meditations we can begin to remove the veil from our eyes, a curtain upon which is projected this obvious world, but which separates us from higher states of knowing and being. Many say, "no, there is only this world, and it is not (but) a veil." They say there is nothing deeper, nothing Divine, nothing Messianic to see or to know.

But I have seen the veil pulled back, and I am trying to address that experience and convey it, both for those who don't believe there is anything beyond this world, and for those who have seen beyond, and want to see more. The problem is, visionary experiences transcend our rationality, and thus can't be conveyed in simple, or literal, or rationalistic modalities. I'm not interested in telling about the experience. Plenty of others have done that. I want to generate a reality transcending experience in the reader! My response is to construct linguistic forms that stretch, or tear, the fabric of language, and that superimpose multiple states and places. By partially emulating the "visionary" experience, perhaps I can literarily (and literally) activate or stimulate it. I don't know what else to do, to try to help people see thru, or beyond, that which appears so opaque, so impenetrable, so insurmountable.

But to attempt to achieve such results in one way or another is absolutely necessary. Whether I succeed or fail is another issue entirely. How else are we to be inspired to change, to do better, if we cannot begin to glimpse the Divine Presence beyond the veil?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Tahara: "purities," also used in the sense to prepare a body for burial

Deer Wunzelz and Rappunzelz,

There's nothing like good poesy. Well, anyway... today, I'm not uploading the one that refers to Darcy Thomson's On Growth and Form. That one's titled "Lamment ov the Hi Preest." It happened to me while walking my son Cal to school. Aaaaannnnd, I'm not uploading the one that explores, in an imagistic manner, the way in which randomness and determinism are simply two sides of a divine coin. It begins with a cool epigram from Zohar 1:15b, "The letters and vowel-points follow (Him) in their singing... like an army at the behest of the king."

Instead, this (which was recently published in the journal Sh’ma)...

Tahharrah: Boddeez ov Lite
               week ov Va'yera, (Genesis 18-22)
Thare iz a man, hiz boddeez wer lite.

Wen he sat in hiz hows, mingeld with eevning,
Hiz boddee ar shaddoez in the pajez ov a bouk.

Wen he wokkt on the way, hiz chields befor him,
Hiz boddee iz a darkness aggenst the briten sun.

Wen he praez with hiz minyen, wisper and wunder,
Hiz boddee ar not, but a fluttering shawl.

Ware he sell frum hiz skreen owt tu the markets,
He wer fleshee fasez, and hevvee armz.

He haz wokkt in feeldz, furro and klod,
The raen a dripping down hiz shivver ov boenz.

This iz the man and hiz boddeez ov lite.

Eech benden shape and eech deegree ov thikness
Iz a vael, abstrakt on the Hevvenlee pallas.

Eech gate tu Hevven iz thin az a shaddo,
     Like a pawlish marbel, likwid and smooth.
Eech windo dissolvz in a prizzem ov lite,
     An oeshen ov unprediktabbel glints.
It's wallz ar kerv in a mennee foelden kerten,
     Lase within lase ov intrekkut dezine.
With iyz, the man will not see a way in.

Kaerful, methoddek, intense reppattishen
Ov lissen and feel, a strikt hullakhah*,
               * Jewish law; divine behavior patterns
Such a dellakut tuch on a flutter ov shawlz.

     Like lips slo karressing her foerhed, her nape,
     Her shoelderz, her brests, such a slo karress;
     Downwerd, downwerd, in erottek foeldz,
     Lips barelee tuch, all breth and trembel...

So the man ov lite, hiz boddeez ov deziyer
Muving ekstattek* in the vaelz ov Uddoniy.
               * the fizzekz ov it iz, mor propperlee
               "Muving diskontinnuwus"

Friday, November 03, 2006

New verses for the Zohar

So here's something I'm working on. This is an excerpt from a long semi-narrative poem called The Pardaes Dokkumen. It is the first 2 of 4 stanzas, but I thought 22 lines was enough to begin with here.

Context: There is a story (midrash) in Talmud (~2nd-5th C. CE) of 4 sages who ascend to "pardaes." This word can be translated as "garden" or "paradise" in its most obvious interpretations, but the midrash itself is very enigmatic. Of the 4 sages who ascend, one comes back an apostate, one comes back apparently mad, one doesn't come back (suicide? dead?), and one comes back "whole." The Zohar (~13th C. CE) picks up on the Pardaes midrash, directly and indirectly in many of its passages - mostly tangential expansions on the story. Also, the Zohar occasionally cloaks a great sage in the appearance of a peasant or lowly worker. "The Pardaes Dokkumen" draws on both Talmud and Zohar, as it reframes the story. I hope that gives you enough references points to read this excerpt.

Plowmen with Taelz

A donkee driver sed,
"I met a plowman reterning frum feeldz,
"Hu sed, ‘This partikkuler vallee iz flud,
     ‘And the oxxen ar serlee and I hav plow
     ‘The muk and the klay intu thik slerree.
     ‘Up tu my waest I hav groen and drivven
     ‘The beests, foemen at nostrel and kikken;
     ‘The plow in my handz, a sord tu the erth.
     ‘That iz the Torrah ov my narro vale.
     ‘The ferro ar fludden and no wun kan dissern
     ‘The seed frum the staen in the lienz I skribe.'"

A wotter kareyer sed,
"I meet a plowman a reternen frum feelz.
"He will say, ‘For jennerratenz I am plow this expanz.
     ‘My lingz ar groen frum its oxxide dust.
     ‘In morning its salt iz kurst on my iyz.
     ‘My fout print rekorden on the dune and drift.
     ‘My skin a reenkel az my plow iz reenkel.
     ‘Wut I du tu the lan, it duz tu me.
     ‘That iz the Torrah ov this endless span.
     ‘The sun and the wind strip off owwer raen.
     ‘We kut owwer ferro; thay bekum owwer grave.'"