Monday, December 31, 2007

Landscapes in Anxiety

The following series continues the building of portraits of the four sages who enter/realize Pardaes. At the same time I am drawing spiritual/existential maps of Messianic Time and the paths/gateways to approach it. The trek takes its toll on the four sages (and their author). Each of them stumble, and we see them now, faent, falling, failing.

I originally pictured 5 landscapes, one for each of the sages, and the fifth perhaps sung by a chorus of Jerusalemite women. One might imagine the chanting of Aicha (Lamentations) in the background, or perhaps Eleni Karaindrou’s brilliant score for Trojan Women. The five poems are:

Ben Azziy:        Exhaustion
Avvuya:          Twisted Sinews
Ben Zoma:       Broken Sapphire
Akiva:             Night
chorus:           Rain

I have sketched out the first 3. As always, it’s impossible to tell if there’s any value in this work, still so raw. Yet to do on the next overlay: sharpen the rhythms and enrich the slant rhyme.

Lanskaeps (Landeskaeps?) in Aengziyettee
Wind karvd roks, slate an shale,
Glassee an blak in a steddy raen.
Ben Azziy huddelz in the last shaedz a kuller
Eroden in kanyenz at the far endz a dusk.

Huddelz in shivverz az thot goez granee,
Abzorbd in shaddoez az the lite groez dim.
Leevz baerlee ster in a faent wind.
It kut intu hiz skin, isee sharp.
Slo and langward. He push aggenst a dark.

This pardaes raen and pardaes wind
Iz rush thru the kanyenz.
It karv a klef between Addom and Seel.
No plase for a root tu kleeng,
And evree breth a battel a will.

Twisten Sinnewz
Avvuya waeks befor the don.
Swimmenz in dreem fragz ov saelen ships,
Or emtee howzez, abbanden an dekay.
He heer leevz ster in a chill wind,
The fraegrenz iz gardeenya, faent in the aer.

Like mooring roeps strechen in ebben tide,
Straenz, a kreeken. Like a waggen
Overlaed with rubbel an brik,
Its bordz sag an axxelz skweeken...

So Avvuya liez in bed,
Hiz stummak overtite an notten.
A faent nawzhya stifelz appattite;
A faesless dred pressez down aggenst hiz chest.

Dutee kallz. He sit. He stand.
Iz ungst remaenz unnaddresst.

Broken Saffiyer
“The kortyardz ov the Hevvenlee Tempel
Ar a pave ov solled saffiyer.
And I am klime tu hiyer korts...”
     Immajjen Ben Zoma.

Rubbel now, az if erthkwake heevz
Until iz Messeyannek Pallas iz kollaps.
Like a mudbrik hows.
Like so much terrakkotta.

Beneeth iz soelz, shivverz ov the saffiyer tielz.
Wuz that Hevven? A lenz intu Seel
Refraks a ten dimmenshen skaep:
     Saelen ships an howzez in dekay;
     Pardaes raenz, blowen chill an faent.

Wuns iz miend kaskaden kristel praer;
Now twisten iz tung tu kerstellen vers.
A Divvine shelter, Divvine sheeld
Serrownd him no mor.
Voisez kry owt, “raze him, raze him!”
Thay kast Ben Zoma owt a grase,
An like Miltenz injerd aenjel,
He tummellen hedlong
Thru the flintee slivverren iz faeth.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Muriel Ginsberg - her life and death

I have not been able to write a eulogy, but these personal thoughts (2 poems) came to me for a matriarch departing, and now departed.

Muriel Ginsberg, Malka Yehudit, may her memory be a blessing.
May Janna and all of Mrs. G's children, "step children," and friends be comforted among the mourners of Zion.

Verses to One of the Mighty Ones
                    13 Kislev, 5768
                    Shabbat Vayishlach

Dear Mrs. G.,
What do you see now,
From your high mountain crags?
     Those real mountain crags --
          Light and energy upthrusting
          Beyond the warmths of stone and blood,
          Of human loves and human wisdoms,
          On the vast edges of cascading star streams.
     Peaks rising out of the world's illusions.

You who are so present,
     Blood and touch and wisdom.
You who would speak in clarities so complex
     They sounded simple.
Like when you said to Janna's question,
     "What should I do now?"
          A cold day, and you said,
          "Wear a coat."
Such a perfect koan; such a volume of poetry
In three words.
     "Oh but really, mom!"
          "You're on your own now, baby."
Another koan that we'll unfold
     For the rest of our lives.

Is Ezekiel's chariot parked at your bedside,
Waiting for you to step aboard?
Or Elijah's wings spread above you,
     All 6 of them (or is it 60,000?),
     Refracting showers of spectral light,
          Blinding to us, so we can't look, can't see.
     Just about the right amount of light for you, now,
          As your strength and wisdom carry you
          Beyond your body, organs, tissues, cells, atoms,
          Infinitely small and infinitely large.
               You can understand that now.
               We can only say it in wonder.

Have I mentioned how awesome you are to us,
Both here and in the palaces beyond
     Where you have begun to dictate new Torah?
Have I mentioned that I am not crying, right this moment?
     I am too much in awe,
          As I watch you step with such strength
          Across the borders.
I will listen closely for you,
     From this side,
     As you teach me things no one else has taught.
          With all my love, I remain...

A Mighty One, Departed
                    28 Kislev, 5768
                    Shabbat Miketz

Now you have crossed over.

Storms, blown in from the sea,
Tore into us through the night.
Across the street a eucalyptus down
     Its roots turned up, a gaping hole.
Floods, and now the aftermath
     Debris and knee-deep muck.

I sit here stunned in my own wreckage,
     Bouts of violent weeping
And in its lee,
     Exhaustion, gaping empty.

Cavalier, so cavalier
I spoke about your journey
And all the awe I felt
At what you might yet see.

That you have taken flight, perhaps, is true.
But back on land
     A hole is dug that we must fill.
     Violent storms that scatter all our thoughts.
     Our halls pile up with each day’s new debris.
The clock ticks. How slow, how wearily.

And all my words, so cavalier,
Are now become my mockers and accusers.

From this I must rebuild again,
Among the ghosts of laughter
And the silences that once were full of prayers.