“Trying to explain the Old Testament is like trying to untie a series of Gordian Knots.” He said that often, and few argued with him. Whether they did not argue because they agreed, or simply wanted to avoid his unwillingness to cease pushing until the other or others conceded whatever point he was making hardly mattered. He knew nothing about the New Testament. He wasn’t even sure to what it was a Testament, though he could say that of the Old as well. It was just that one set of Gordian knots was enough, unless and until he could find his philosophical scissors, and God only knew where they had gone.
He imagined what it must have been like
in the garden, before the snake, before
the damned apple, though certainly not
before the missing rib, that was a complete
and utter bore, and yes beauty can be
infinitely boring given half a chance.
But to be blissfully ignorant, without
the burden of knowledge, the taste
of the apple on the tongue, to just
be in the middle of perfection, and be
perfection itself, that had to be something.
But no, there would have been no mirrors,
and who knows if it would have seemed
the least bit beautiful, since there
would have been nothing to compare it to.
Maybe we should honor the snake.
His is six and deeply confused,
and asks questions to end that state.
He wants to know if Adam and Eve
had two sons, and one killed the other,
where did all of the people come from?
Ask your father seems and easy answer,
but one he cannot accept, too easy
for a mind that needs timely response.
I stumble around, try to deflect,
and finally admit I don’t know but
that some stories cannot be taken literally.
He knows what that word means, and it
is a sufficient explanation for now.
In a week we’ll have the conversation
once again, this time not Adam, not Eve,
but Shem, Ham and Japheth, and how
the three sons of Noah repopulated
the entire planet, and I will once again
admit to my sad lack of knowledge,
and silently curse the Religious School
for creating the abyss into which
my grandson is all to pleased to lead me.
Consider, for a moment
the absurdity of it all
a guy with brains enough
to shape universes
who can flick on stars
with a thought
faster than you or I
can throw a switch who,
gives a lizard a kick in the ass
and ends up with man
that a guy
with this kind of power
is going to write his story down
on a bunch
or have an old coot
wander the desert endlessly
pen and parchment in hand
and then leave the scrolls
scattered in caves
it makes no freakin’ sense.
If it was me
standing on a hill
watching some scrub pine
slowly burn onward
no ashes, no embers
just keeps on burning
and if I heard a voice
giving me orders
when I couldn’t see anyone
to go and slap
upside the head
or march into a river hoping
to find the stones
followed by miles
of lemmings lined up
not this kid
me, I’d look for a screen
and some short professor
Do you buy for a minute
that he would wander
sucking sand from his navel
and getting called
to haul his ass up a mountain
for a crisis meeting
and then have
to schlep tablets down the hill
and pretending to like it
then telling his wife
he knew where he was
he wasn’t lost
so what if it was forty years
really going to buy that
had to be
dragging the damn ark
like a bloody albatross
then looking down
into the valley
he’s gonna say
okay, that’s it
go on without me
I just got word
I gotta croak here
but keep a kind thought,
fat chance of that ever happening.
“Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.”-Shelley
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
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.
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.