This poem was first published in What Stays, my second chapbook of poems (Bennington Writing Seminars Alumni Chapbook Series, 2002.) It has been used in congregations and independent minyanim during Kol Nidre services.
My people break our promises publicly.
We stand and say "Hey, God, you know,
you can't hold us to anything really,
I mean we're creation, right?" We declare
all vows, promises, and oaths
of the year to come -- all vows we're too silent
or too weak or forgetful to uphold --
null and void in advance.
We say, "God, you're listening, right?" We say,
"Don't worry, God. We still feel guilt."
We are like wild grapes.
We are beautiful, and we are sour.
Forgive us, and forgive
the stranger in our midst.