BECAUSE

“Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.”-Shelley

I write
                                                                    because words must be said
words must be said
                                                                    because they eat at my tongue
they eat at my tongue
                                                                    because they recall the flames of the ovens
they recall the flames of the ovens
                                                                    because they were forced to shower
they were forced to shower
                                                                    because they were Jews
they were Jews
                                                                    because they embraced Torah
they embraced Torah
                                                                    because they walked through the desert
they walked through the desert
                                                                    because they followed the trail of manna
they followed the trail of manna
                                                                    because it led to freedom
it led to freedom
                                                                    because I saw it in a dream
I saw it in a dream
                                                                    because a voice whispered it to me
a voice whispered it to me
                                                                    because I write

BEGGAR’S TALE

I speak clearly, concisely
in an ancient, long forgotten
tongue that none understand.

I tell my tale, leaving out
nothing, a summoner
in a deaf world, whispering

of coins, pulled from
an empty pocket and cast
at your feet, soundless.

I point to signs, lettered
in my careful hand, without
meaning, cryptic to you

You urge me to trust
in your god even as
you deny me my own

who sits by the gate
wrapped in rags, waiting
to for rain to melt the pillar.

EVE OF ENLIGHTENMENT

Cats have more in common
with snakes that we care to recognize.
She said this with a straight face.
He wanted to laugh at her, but dared not.
She didn’t take laughter kindly
when she thought it was directed at her.
He calmly asked her to explain.
It’s simple, she said, with feigned
patience, both can slither around,
are expert at hiding when they wish,
and as you have now so clearly demonstrated,
much as Adam did, both of you the hard way,
both snakes and cats are smarter
by far than your average male human.

PLEASE CONTINUE TO HOLD

 

The thing I don’t get, he said,
is why whenever I put in a call
to heaven a male voice answers,
and says he will transfer me.
Usually the wait time is too long
but occasionally a woman will answer
and tell me the Queen
of Queens, blessed is she, is busy
but she knows my wishes and those
with enough merit will
be granted in due course.
She does, always, thank me for calling.

WAITING GAME

He is due to arrive
as soon as we are ready.
We have known for some time
that he is on his way,
and we want everything just so
for him when he arrives.
That is the least we can do,
and the least he would expect.
We are not certain
just what he will want
so we can never be certain
we are actually ready.
That, we think, explains
why he has not arrived.
Unless he has, since we
have never seen him,
and don’t know if he
might actually be a she.
So we say our prayers
and go on with preparations.

WWJD?

He walks into the room
hoping he won’t be seen
and if seen, won’t be recognized.
Not many know him,
none, he is certain, truly
know him, merely his image
and the idea they have of him.
It has been this way
for centuries, and he can barely
recall the acts done, the words
spoken in his name.
He has been here forever
but they wait, patiently,
expecting a return
he cannot make until
they let go of their dreams
and see the reality of him.

AN OFF YEAR

The was a winter, once
where even in the north
the snow refused to fall
and ice rejected jamming the culverts,
the sky stared down in amazement.
That was the year trees would not bud
and flowers fled deeper
into the sweetness of the earth,
grass singed and lay indolent.
It was a year my coat of many colors
was taken, pieced out among brothers
until each had a color and none a coat.
I would sit at the right hand of kings
dreaming of a day when dreams
might refuse to visit and then,
starved of images
I could reinforce foundations
preparing for their visit.
I am strapped to the altar
and the knife is poised in the hand
of a man who would like to be a father,
both of us looking up for intervention.
There was a year, once
when the ram broke free
of the thicket and picked his way
down the hill to his young.


First Appeared in Arnazella, 2001. Reprinted on Website of Poets
Against the War, 2003. Reprinted in Legal Studies Forum, Vol. 29,
No.1, 2005.