June 13, 1896, Prague a warm day, old stone schul you stood before the minyon wearing the skullcap repeating ancient words that lay on paper, rehearsed sounding false on a tongue swollen in anxiety. Your tallit, white woven with blue threads hung at your knees fringe fingered, rolled and unrolled, twisted until touched to skin words inscribed, etched into collective memory. Seventeen years later sitting with Buber did words come back and stick on your tongue and later still when you studied under Bentovim, did words take form, shape, dredging up a past kept suppressed walking in desert heat knowing salvation was down a hill, entry forbidden. Lying in your bed in Hoffman’s Sanitorium, the trees of Kierling blooming did you recite Kaddish as endless night engulfed you.
First published in The Right to Depart, Plain View Press (2008) and reprinted in Legal Studies Forum Vol. 32, No. 1 (2008)
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It has a certain heft that says something substantial lies within, waiting to be freed. It glides easily, suggesting an effortlessness you know is a tease, that labor still waits. Still, it does said comfortably, is appealing to the eye, has the deep jade green along its barrel, the knots interwoven top and bottom that say what lies within cannot be easily unraveled. As you draw it across the page you hope that somewhere in Neamh old Robbie will look down on you, smile and share a thought or two, but that you know, is for another day.
It should come as no surprise, for both Buddhism and Hinduism grew out of the same fertile soil. An older Hindu man said, “do not look for your Guru. When you are ready, your Guru will find you.” I knew the Buddhist equivalent, and its corollary, when the student is ready, the teacher disappears. My poetry professor’s yin couldn’t grasp my yang, and I am still waiting patiently for my poetic Guru but despite my growing age, he has yet to appear, but my spirituality seems on firm ground, so it may not really matter. But during my weight, I have found Oatley, Duval, Rose, Kirk, Cullen, and though I have met none, and not a one has found me, the Nirvana they place in bottles at my disposal, that they willingly a ship from Australia, makes me wonder what other possible Guru I might need.
The most interesting thing about visiting websites from foreign news services is that so many offer content in English and how deaths that occur locally seem to invoke the same sadness, horror, belated honor, and that local disasters take precedence over our own disasters not merely because it happened there and not here, but because the losses are greater, the damage far worse, the faces far less white. We hold the world up to the mirror often, but is only our face we see, and those like us standing behind, and we are blind to so much of what goes on around us, because this color blindness is of the sort that disables seeing at all rather than seeing all in monochrome.
The truly pious will never get to heaven for they don’t know how to sing or dance. Kerouac roams freely like a rogue elephant unable to get a good buzz on but not for want of trying. He thought it would be Edenic, a garden somewhere between Babylon hanging and the lobby of the Royal Hawaiian but it bears a closer resemblance to Grant Park or rural North Dakota where the Coke machines along the roadside are often empty and you are rarely hit by golf balls the size of hailstones.
Recently appeared in Aurora, Down in the Dirt Vol. 167 (2020)