THE WEIGHT OF MOURNING

The weight of mourning defies precise measurement,
and all of the rules of mathematics fail in an attempt.
Grief rejects being placed on scales, there is never
a moment of pure equilibrium, only a teetering
that always threatens to bring it all down in a heap.
A million who are nameless and faceless is an agony
and yet eighty thousand with names on white walls
of the ancient synagogue in Prague seem
to weigh as heavy or heavier on the heart,
and the youngest of those taken are the heaviest
a burden almost too great to bear,
no lighter for our freely flowing tears.
And yet a woman, nameless, faceless
and dead a dozen years, who I knew as my mother
but nothing more, save odd facts that insured
it would be all I would ever know, that woman
was a crushing burden, but one I had to bear alone
and did, if barely, until the moment
when by twist of fate and DNA, she had a name
and soon thereafter a face, and as I stared at her,
as I stared, too, at the mirror, the hole she left,
that emptiness grew vast and heavy, and I
must now struggle not to collapse beneath it.

First appeared in Peacock Journal, February 2017
https://peacockjournal.com/louis-faber-three-poems/

BUSINESS SUITS

“What do you think is the likelihood
of success in the long run,” she asks,
and I watch the fly land on my forearm,
perched on hairs that barely

bend under his inconsequential weight.
His wings are a perpetual twitch,
almost unseen, and felt only as a faint
breeze in my imagination, while a world

is created, a reality collapses, a butterfly
is born and dies, and the fly stares at me
a thousand faces the same, each processed
in turn, digested and stored in

a finite space, overwritten by
the next face, flower, while
his tongue unfurls, flicks and sucks
on a bead of sweat at my elbow.
“Not very good,” I respond.

First Published in the 2005 Scars Publications Poetry Wall Calendar

AVERAGE

I am indistinct, male
of reasonable height
and weight, a bit much
more than I care,
but hardly distinct.

I have not suffered
mysogeny, been
overlooked for
being the wrong
gender, as if
there is right
and wrong.

I have not felt
the sting
of racism, I am
merely one
of the lemmings
marching along
to the abyss
certain of my
privilege, able
to cede my
humanity.

CHURCHES

I have already visited
countless churches

basilicas, shrines
and admired the art,

the simple beauty,
free of liturgy and belief.

I did not stop
to pray, to implead,

merely to see,
to listen, to absorb.

for I was a Jew.
a nonbeliever

in a Christian world
silently tolerated.

Now, I have learned
I was only half Jewish,

half, hidden a polyglot
of Christianity,

a descendant of saints,
and now churches

have a heavy weight
I find hard to bear.

KANNON’S STATUE 鐵笛倒吹 語十八

If you meet the Bodhisattva
you don’t ask someone
to carve the image from your mind.
To the carver, she weighs but an ounce
and can be carried
on his fingertip
but try and lift her
and you will not be able
to move her from her place.

All Buddhas
are one Buddha
but his Buddha
will never be
your Buddha.

A reflection on Case 58 of the Iron Flute Koans.

BLUES

He is for it or he is
against it, and if you could
predict the vacillations you
could develop the means
of measuring the flux of sanity.

You could as easily grasp
the water flowing downriver
and by asking select questions
determine the next heavy rain,

but the odds are good
you will be outside when
the deluge begins, and
only its ultimate weight
and duration remain to be felt.

It all comes down to the same
thing, if you could paint the sky
blue, precisely which shade
of blue would you use and why
that one for heaven’s sake

LIKE DUST

We are obligated to carry
memories, and as we
get older, the burden grows
ever heavier, we bend
under its weight, knowing
we dare not lose even one
for once cast off, the weight
is carried off like the smallest
feather on a storming wind.
Soon enough it is we who
Will become the burden
that others must carry
and we hope they will
willingly shoulder the load
lest we become the excised
dust of a forgotten stone
grown over with weeds.

THE WEIGHT

There is a heaviness to the sky
a weightiness belied
by the gray of the clouds,
even the departing sun
seems to whisper that it
will be replaced by rain in short order.
You feel the weight bearing down,
as the heat of the day dissipates,
and although the first drops
have not yet fallen, you know
that it is best to be within
when the rain begins
for it will do so without warning
and with little care
for your presence,
for this is how Spring
demands your attention.