Dave Bonta's Ice Mountain

Icemtn-cover-500pxI've been a fan of Dave Bonta's poetry for a long time. (I reviewed his chapbook Odes to Tools at the Best American Poetry blog some years ago.) So when I learned that his new collection was coming out from Phoenicia Publishing -- the same press that brought out his Odes to Tools (and, full disclosure, also the same press that published my first two books of poetry, 70 faces and Waiting to Unfold) -- I pre-ordered a copy instantly.

Ice Mountain: an elegy is spare, elegant, and deeply moving. These are daily poems arising out of walks on Dave's home territory, a mountain which he describes in the foreword as "a high section of the Allegheny front across the valley to the northwest of our own mountain," in 2013 "desecrated by an industrial wind plant[.]"

In that introduction he writes eloquently about the price paid by wildlife for those wind turbines, and about the extent to which the Appalachians remain a "national sacrifice area" in our perennial quest for cheap energy.

The introduction offers a geopolitical framing. The poems simply offer windows into the landscape, interspersed with Beth Adams' linocut prints, as spare and elegant as the words themselves.

Some of them explore an interior landscape that hints at the outside world, like this one:

4 February

In a dream I run
through my half-remembered high school
still an outcast

I grew up with a woodstove
instead of a television
I know all the theme songs of oak

the crackle and bang
the hiss and whistle
and sudden sigh of collapse

I love "all the theme songs of oak," and how the phrase "sudden sigh of collapse" hints at (but does not directly reference) the ecosystem in distress.

Others are explicitly about the mountain and its power installation, and hint at an interior world, like this one:

4 March

Ice Mountain's propellors
spin at different speeds
face this way and that

you can't hear them from here
their low-frequency moans
like lost whales

what won't we sacrifice
to keep the weather just right
inside our homes

I love that he compares the propellors to whales -- lost indeed, so far from any ocean -- seeing even in their deadly monstrosity an analogy to something found in nature.

The natural world and the manmade world are always in uncomfortable proximity here, as in this poem:

15 March

the highway's tar has been bleached
by a winter's worth of salt
and in the mid-day sun

it almost shines
I squint at the shapes on the shoulder
as I pass

here some saltaholic's crumpled fur
there a fetal curl
of flayed tire

Dave resists easy binaries. There is a kind of beauty in the salt-bleached highway that "almost shines." But our human needs for progress come at the cost of animal lives, and this collection never lets us forget that. 

Because it is deep midwinter in the hills where I live, I am most drawn to the February and March poems, the ones that unlock the austerity and beauty of winter landscape. The summer poems feel dreamlike to me now, both in their beauty and in their dark undertones. I'm looking forward to rereading this collection at different times of year and seeing what speaks most to me on future re-readings.

Ice Mountain: an elegy is available at Phoenicia Publishing.

 


Prayer for the Musmachot

prayer-for-the-musmachot

These are the names of the daughters of Israel
Who came into the womb of narrow unknowing
Each with her household, to be rebirthed anew,

Called by name at the moment of becoming
No less than the stars that shine in their time
By which to count a promised people of light.

Birthing took time, but they’re vigorous in living
And giving life-giving life from essence of soul,
The single point of light that is light before light.

It did not merely appear in your wild and waste:
You saw, daring to turn toward flame of heart,
Standing open to touch and tend the holy,

Hearing your name as never before called from the
Name as never before spoken, becoming in all ways
Within you What is Becoming always within you,

Now ready to shine as never before, for you as the very
Top of the mountain that glowed with the radiance of
Birth herself in truth and love and pain and hope.

These are the names of the daughters of Israel
Come to lead from narrow unknowing to rebirth anew
With eyes wide open – daring to turn aside and see

The flame of heart, to help all of us stand open to
Touch and tend the holy, to hear and become –
Next links in the unbroken chain of always becoming

Now given to their care, placed on their shoulders,
Hearing their names as never before, leaning back into
History’s hands: from where we stand, go forward.

Dedicated with love and blessing to the
ALEPH Class of 2017

Rabbi Rachel Hersh
Rabbi Diane Lakein
Hazzan Jessi Roemer
Rabbi Susan Shamash
Rabbi Jennifer Singer

Rabbi David Evan Markus & Rabbi Rachel Barenblat
Co-Chairs, ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal

CLICK TO VIEW COMPLETE POEM WITH COMMENTARY

Icon-prayer-for-the-musmachot


Ascent

 

 

Immerse, my body bare as birth.
Emerge with my skin tingling.

Ascend the fifteen stairs to you
singing love songs on every step.

At the door to the holy of holies
I vibrate like a struck bell.

My fears rise up. What makes me think
I'm good enough for you?

Only this: you make me want
to shine as only I can shine.

Let me find favor in your eyes.
I ache to draw near to you.

Nothing I can offer would be enough.
All I have is this heart, bruised

and tender. All I am is this heart,
saying your name with every beat.

 


Immerse, my body bare as birth. In the Avodah service on Yom Kippur we read about how the high priest used to prepare for the work of Temple service by immersing in a mikvah.

Ascend the fifteen stairs[.] In Hebrew, the number 15 can be spelled יה, which is a name of God. There are fifteen psalms of ascent, which may have once been sung on each of fifteen steps in the Temple in Jerusalem.

[T]he holy of holies[.] The inner sanctum of the Temple was known as the holy of holies, which was entered only by the high priest and only once a year.

I ache to draw near to you. The Hebrew קרבן, often translated as "sacrifice" or "offering," comes from the root קרב which means drawing-near.

This is another poem in my ongoing Texts to the Holy series.

Shabbat shalom to all who celebrate.


New at The Wisdom Daily

Logo-twd-header

When I was younger,
I believed the mystical teachings
could erase sorrow. The mystical teachings
do not erase sorrow.
They say, here is your life.
What will you do with it?

— Yehoshua November, “Two Worlds Exist”

These lines are from the opening poem of Yehoshua November’s new collection of poetry, Two Worlds Exist. When I first read them, they went directly to my heart.

Yes: the great teachings of my tradition often offer me comfort – and there are sorrows those teachings cannot touch. It is childish to imagine that if only I could find the right teaching, the right text, I could erase grief — my own, or that of someone I love. Better to let the texts do as November describes: to let them open up for me the sacred text of my own life and wait for me to answer their question with my choices, with my living....

That's the beginning of my latest post for The Wisdom Daily, which is both a personal reflection and a review of Yehoshua November's latest collection. Read the whole thing: Here Is Your Life. What Will You Do With It?


Prayer After the Election

prayer-after-the-election

Today mourning and celebration commingle.
Jubilation and heartache are juxtaposed
In neighborhoods where lawns proclaimed
Support for different candidates, on Facebook walls
And Twitter streams where clashing viewpoints meet.

Grant us awareness of each others’ hopes and fears
Even across the great divides of red state and blue state,
Urban and rural. Open us to each others’ needs.
Purify our hearts so that those who rejoice do not gloat
And those who grieve do not despair.

Strengthen our ability to be kind to one another
And to ourselves. Awaken in us the yearning
To build a more perfect union. Let us roll up our sleeves
Whether today we feel exultation or sorrow, and together
Shape a nation of welcome and compassion.

Let ours be a land where no one need fear abuse
Or retribution, where every diversity is celebrated,
Where those who are most vulnerable are protected.
May bigotry and violence vanish like smoke.
May compassion prevail from sea to shining sea.

By Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

 

Written for (and first published at) Kol ALEPH, the blog of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal.


Through today's door

2662602423_02a5619dd0_zA poem from Adrienne Rich:

 

Either you will
go through this door
or you will not go through.

If you go through
there is always the risk
of remembering your name.

Things look at you doubly
and you must look back
and let them happen.

If you do not go through
it is possible
to live worthily

to maintain your attitudes
to hold your position
to die bravely

but much will blind you,
much will evade you,
at what cost who knows?

The door itself
makes no promises.
It is only a door.

 


Every moment is a doorway. Between where we've been, and where we're going. Between who we've been, and who we're becoming.

Jewish tradition offers us something to put on a doorway: a mezuzah. 

A reminder to pause. A reminder that transitions can be made holy. A reminder to notice.

And what's inside a mezuzah? A reminder of the Oneness behind all things. A reminder of the importance of love, which accompanies us in all of our journeying. 

Today we pause and touch a mezuzah in time. Behind us: every holiday we've just celebrated. Look back over your shoulder and see them stretching back in time: Sukkot, and before that Yom Kippur, and before that Rosh Hashanah, and before that Elul, and before that Tisha b'Av.

Ahead of us: a fallow period, a time to integrate whatever has arisen in us during the holiday season.

Today is Shemini Atzeret, a day for pausing, the silence after the chant. Today God beseeches us to linger a little longer: the seven days of Sukkot have ended, but God says, "won't you stay in the sukkah with Me one more day, beloveds?" And we do.

In Israel and on the Reform calendar, today is also Simchat Torah. We read the very end of the Torah, and we read the very beginning of the Torah. Torah is a mobius strip whose end brings us back to its beginning. Our lives are like this, too: the end of one chapter is the beginning of the next.

We stand on the threshold between what was, and what isn't yet. 

May we be blessed as we go through this door.

 

With gratitude to the editors of Mishkan T'filah who put Adrienne Rich's beautiful poem "Prospective Immigrants, Take Note" at the start of the festival morning service.

Image: a wooden door at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem.


Hoshanot after the end of a marriage

1.

I feel for these willows,
clipped from the tree

they never imagined
would stop being home.

Packaged and moved,
unpacked and shaken:

blackening at the edges,
shriveling and curling

leaves bedraggled now,
ready to come apart.

We beat our branches
against the earth.

I fling myself down too.
Let the rains fall.

 

2.

From loneliness
wrapped around me like a tallit.

From nights when the house
is too quiet.

From the relentlessness
of responsibility.

From wondering
what I should have done.

From imagining a life
that's not this one.

From self-blame.
From the ocean of grief.

From wishing I had an "us"
I could ask God to save.

 

3.

The sukkah begins to come apart.
Wind and rains unravel its garlands,

knock the cornstalks askew.
This is its purpose: to remind me

how to celebrate what can't last.
How to grasp its beauty with both hands

and then open my fists, let
the chapter be over. How to trust

there will be more abundance.
How to rejoice in what I don't yet have.

The ebb and flow will carry me to shore,
and I'm not crossing the sea alone.

Salt has scoured me clean. Drench me
with honey, sweeten every decree.

 


Today is Hoshana Rabbah, the seventh day of Sukkot. It is its own mini-holiday within the bigger holiday. (For more on that, see Three more holidays at the very end of Sukkot, 2012.)

We beat our branches / against the earth. On this day it is customary to take willow branches and beat them against the ground in an embodied prayer for rain. 

From wishing I had an "us" I could ask to save. The day of this festival means "The Great 'Save Us!'" Today it's customary to recite supplicatory prayers called hoshanot, which ask God in a variety of ways to save us. (See Hoshanot, 2010.) 

The sukkah becomes to come apart. See Pictures and words (Hoshana Rabbah), 2012.

How to rejoice in what I don't yet have. This is the spiritual work that Sukkot asks of us. See Joy Like Our Lives Depend On It by Rabbi David Evan Markus.

The ebb and flow. I learned from my teacher Rabbi Elliot Ginsburg that the Jewish year, and that spiritual life in general, has an ebb and flow; see The year as spiritual practice, 2009.

I'm not crossing the sea alone. Our daily liturgy includes "Mi Chamocha," the song our ancestors sang after crossing the Sea of Reeds. Often from the bimah, as I play the guitar chords that usher us in to the melody we usually use for this prayer, I remind the room (and myself) that whatever we may be facing -- with the Egyptian army behind us and the sea ahead of us, as it were -- we never have to cross the sea alone. We have each other. We have God. We have the presence of love to companion us in our crossings.

Drench me / with honey, sweeten every decree. Some maintain the custom of continuing to eat challah or apples dipped in honey not only on Rosh Hashanah, but all the way through the holiday season until tomorrow. One tradition holds that today is the day when the "decree," the verdict for the world declared on Rosh Hashanah, is finally sealed. I like to think that though we can't avert whatever life has in store for us, we can seek to sweeten it -- for ourselves, and for each other.

Moadim l'simcha -- wishing you joy in the festival; may this be a season of rejoicing.


Who rolls back light before dark and dark before light...

 

30347218796_e7b7e905db_z 

Through the morning clouds
a patch of blue sky beckons
over distant hills.

 

 30277727642_f58f175a99_z

In the evening
the hillside darkens, purple,
framed by strings of light.

30360271826_9ee48baa0f_z 

The Sukkot full moon
paints the clouds luminescent,
almost within reach.

 

 

30368891546_c2f09c0793_z

Early morning haze
nestles in the near valley.
Sunlight grins, dives in.

 


The title of this post comes from the evening blessing praising God Who brings on the evening.

(Here's a post containing that prayer, as well as some contemporary renderings thereof, and some poems that work with the same themes: Looking at the prayer for evening in a new light.)

Photos taken from my wee sukkah.


A Hallel for Sukkot

113.

We who serve offer praise.
We who serve by building flimsy houses
out of sticks and string.

We who serve by whisking together honey and coffee,
chesed and gevurah,
to make offerings we bring in cupped hands.

By seeking to sweeten what's bitter.
By speaking our truths, naming what is.
We who serve by hoping for better --

by taking up hammer and nails to build
the redeemed world we didn't inherit:
offer praise.

 

114.

When we pushed through the narrow place
when we left what had become constriction

we came into our own, we became our own.
Only then could we give ourselves to you.

When we left the household that didn't nurture 
when we left old stories that no longer sustained 

the ground shifted beneath our feet
the hills leapt like baby goats

the river we thought flowed always toward the sea
turned tidal and became sharp with salt.

Mountains, did you savor letting loose?
River, did you rejoice in changing your course?

We too have been transformed
by the presence of the one whose name is change.

 

115.

Friends, be profligate with blessings!
Spend them freely,
prime the pump for more.

Children, bless us with wonder
at the calliope song of geese overhead.
Elders, bless us with permission.

The skies belong to God
always perfect
and always changing.

The earth is ours to tend.
We can offer praises right here, right now.
What are we waiting for?

 

116.

Because you hear me, I am never alone.
I lift the cup of my changes:
your presence sweetens what was bitter.
This sukkah is temporary
but the promises I make to you endure.
Wherever I go, you are with me.
Every place becomes Jerusalem.

 

117.

Everyone, say thank you.
That we are alive at all
is cause to rejoice.

 

118.

There are more galaxies than I can imagine.
We are made from the same stuff as the stars.

What burns in me: a spark
from the fire that sustains all creation.

And when I say I love you, I mean
you expand my heart to encompass the universe.

Open the door of my heart:
I have feathered my nest with gratitude.

This is the door to who we really are.
Will you walk through?

Today is the only day there is.
Be glad with me.

 


Here is a pdf file of the psalms of Hallel: in Hebrew, translated into English, and accompanied by commentary. This poem series is rooted in the psalms of Hallel, which we recite daily during Sukkot (and at other times, too -- though these poems draw imagery from Sukkot, rather than from the other seasons when Hallel is recited.) For those who are interested in the poems' references and citations, some notes follow. 

By the by, if you like this kind of thing, you might also like my Six psalms for Hallel written during Pesach several years ago, now published in Open My Lips (Ben Yehuda Press, 2016.)


 

Notes: 

We who serve offer praise. See psalm 113, "Sing praises, you servants of Adonai!" [B]uilding flimsy houses..See A sukkah of sticks and string. [W]hisking together honey and coffee. Many recipes for honeycake, a seasonal treat, involve both honey and coffee. [C]hesed and gevurah. Chesed (lovingkindness) and gevurah (boundaried-strength) are two of the seven divine qualities to which the seven days of Sukkot can be mapped. 

When we pushed through the narrow place. See psalm 114, "When Israel went forth from Mitzrayim..." Mitzrayim, "Egypt," can be translated as "the narrow place." Only then could we give ourselves to you. See Psalm 114, "Judah became God's..." [T] he ground shifted beneath our feet. "The Jordan retreated. Mountains leapt like rams..."  [T]he river we thought flowed always toward the sea. Some rivers are tidal. (The Hudson is one of them.) The one whose name is change. God describes God's-self to Moshe as "I Am Becoming What I Am Becoming."

Friends, be profligate with blessings! See psalm 115, though I chose to invert the giving of blessing: in this poem we are the ones who are offering blessing to God, instead of the other way around. The reference to youths and elders also hearkens back to this psalm.  The skies belong to God. "The heavens are the heavens of Adonai..." We can offer praises right here, right now. "The dead cannot offer praises..."

Because you hear me, I am never alone. See psalm 116: "I love knowing that Adonai listens to my cry..." I lift the cup of my changes. "I raise the cup of my deliverance..." That verse is part of the traditional liturgy for havdalahThe promises I make to you... "I will honor my vows to Adonai..." Every place becomes Jerusalem. "...in the midst of Jerusalem."

Everyone, say thank you. See psalm 117: "Praise Adonai, all nations..."

There are more galaxies than I can imagine. Psalm 118 begins with the assertion that God's love endures forever. L'olam means both space and time, suggesting the infinity of the heavens. Open the door of my heart. "Open for me the door of righteousness." This is the door to who we really are. "This is the door of Adonai..." Today is the only day there is. "This is the day that Adonai has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

 


#blogElul 29: Return

BlogElul 2016I turn again toward you.
My eyes are clear and open.
I keep you always before me.
Your presence makes me glad.

My eyes are clear, and open
to the future I can't yet see.
Your presence makes me glad
I leap into the unknown.

To the future I can't yet see:
thank you for waiting for me.
I leap into the unknown.
I trust that I won't fall.

Thank you for waiting for me.
With you, I'm never alone.
I trust that I won't fall.
I keep hope in you.

With you, I'm never alone.
Sing to me and I am strong.
I keep hope in you.
I open my heart wide.

Sing to me and I am strong.
I keep you always before me.
I open my heart wide.
I turn again toward you.


 

Yes, it's another pantoum. (Maybe I need a pantoum category on my blog, to go along with the sestina category.)

Writing these Elul poems has been a gift for me, and has helped me stay connected with my own spiritual life even at this season when my professional life ramps up. I hope that reading them has been sweet for you.

L'shanah tovah -- wishing you a sweet new year.

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


For #blogElul 28: Give

BlogElul 2016My poems are a dime
a dozen. I write so many

they must blur together
even in your memory.

I used to think
I should keep silent,

try to take up less room
-- but I'm pretty sure

you don't want me
to shut off the spigot,

keep my words from flowing.
You know what the poems

really are: distillations
of my love for you

offered with every beat
of my aching heart.


 

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 27: Bless

Your voice cascades
    chains of blessing

        washing over me
            like mikvah waters

                awakening each nerve
                    with sheer delight.

I press fingers
    to my wrist:

        there's your name
            pulsing in me

                with each beat
                    of my heart.

What it means
    to bless you.

        My dear one,
            open my lips:

                I want to
                    sing your praise.


 

Chains of blessing. See the trope marking shalshelet.BlogElul 2016

 

To my wristOne mode of wrapping tefillin maps each of the seven wraps on the forearm to one of the seven "lower" sefirot. The wrap that goes right over the pulse point is the one that maps to malchut or Shekhinah.

Open my lips. From the verse which precedes the Amidah, "Eternal God, open my lips that I may proclaim Your glory." (Also the title of my latest poetry collection from Ben Yehuda Press.)

 

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 26: Create

BlogElul 2016In this new chapter
I seek out bright colors.

I make the bed every morning.
I don't scoff at slow cookers.

I like gentler, less tannic wines.
I wear contact lenses now.

From these thin threads
the fabric of a life will emerge.

Will the patterns be bold
and beautiful? Will the weave

hold up to hard use
or will it come apart in my hands?

I never learned how to manage
my own loom, not by myself.

Remind me even in my knots
and mistakes there is beauty.


 

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 25: Intend

To be aware in every moment
of your hand on my shoulderblade
and the earth beneath my feet.

To notice the gleam of grass
in late morning sun, highlighting
the single reddened maple leaf.

To be patient with myself
when grief wells up. To wrap myself
in kindness like a woolen tallit.

To close the book on the old year.
I never have to push my way through
those narrow straits again.


  BlogElul 2016

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 23: Begin

BlogElul 2016With every ending, something new begins.
The end of one chapter starts the next
until the tale itself comes to a close.
We write the book of life with our own hands.

The end of one chapter starts the next
unfolding. Every day that we're alive
we write the book of life with our own hands.
I want your name on every page of mine:

unfolding every day that I'm alive.
Your name reminds me who I want to be --
I want your name. On every page of mine
let me write kindness and compassion.

Your name reminds me who I want to be.
My name reminds me I am God's, I'm strong.
Let me write kindness and compassion
in the book that reads from itself.

My name reminds me I am God's, I'm strong.
The days grow shorter: that's okay.
In the book that reads from itself
I can write my way to happiness.

The days grow shorter: that's okay.
Until the tale itself comes to a close
I can write my way to happiness
with every ending. Something new begins.


We write the book of life with our own hands... in the book that reads from itself. See Everyday I write the book.  

My name reminds me I am God's, I am strong. My middle name in Hebrew is Gavriela, "God's Strength." 

I seem to be on something of a pantoum kick lately. The new year's poem I co-wrote for ALEPH with Rabbi David is a pantoum, and so is the poem I wrote for #blogElul day 8. There's something about how the form loops back in on itself that feels especially appropriate for this season of reflection and teshuvah.

 

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 22: End

BlogElul 2016Ending a chapter is hard, especially
not knowing what the next will hold.
I write the book of my life with my deeds,
it reads from itself and my signature
is there plain as day, but I don't get
to read ahead. The Jewish year is ending.
There's plenty I don't mind relegating
to memory: every painful conversation,
what we came to call emotional root canal.
Hours sitting tense on the tiny couch
in the couples counselor's office -- not
his fault, but none of that is time
I'd choose to re-live. Let it be over.
A lot of the stories I used to tell
about who I was, who I thought I'd be --
those are over too, and their replacements
not yet known. Can I open my hands, let go
of every ending without losing my grasp
on the things that have no limit?
Love, given and received. Hope
for what might be coming. My gratitude
for you, vast as the Milky Way splashed
across heavens that seem to have no end.


 

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 21: Love

BlogElul 2016Everything I write is a love letter to you.
Some days I'm afraid you don't read them:
that insidious voice whispers in my ear
that even you couldn't possibly want

my graphomanic tendencies. That in writing
day after day I make unreasonable demands.
That my unruly heart takes up too much space.
I can't excise that voice, but I can turn

from the poison it spreads. I remind myself
that you love me not despite who I am
but because of who I am, and that means
all of me. You see my whole heart, even

the parts I try to hide. You don't want me
to pretend. You receive me as I am.


 

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 20: Fulfill

BlogElul 2016When it comes to you, dearest one,
I am profligate with promises:

I will remember you everywhere
I will open my eyes to you always

the channel between your heart and mine
will always be open, even when I ache

because you are too far away
or because my words fail me.

I wish I could adorn you with stars
but all I have are sparks

glinting between my cupped hands
cast by the tireless fire of my heart.


 

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 19: Judge


Your Honor, I don't need to tell you
where I've fallen short: you've seen

the times when I chose silence because
I couldn't bear to stand up for myself...

No one would blame you if you told me
I'm not worth rehabilitating, not after

all these years of ignoring my needs
and pretending I didn't hear your voice.

I lift my gaze to yours expecting lightning
but instead I get the hazel waters

of my childhood river, warm and gentle.
You don't fault me the time it took.

You tell me I wasn't put here only
to weep. You wipe my brimming eyes.


  BlogElul 2016

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.


#blogElul 18: Ask


Did you know all along that this is where I would be:
sitting on a secondhand couch in a half-darkened room
with laptop and glass of a crisp Oregon Pinot Gris
writing poems after singing the kid's bedtime songs
and closing his door behind me? Did you know a year ago
as the new moon approached that I was steeling myself
to admit unhappiness I'd never been able to speak?
Did you know I wouldn't be renewing those vows again --
instead I'd be disentangling from the fine knotted threads
of the household, of the narrative, of the future I used
to think was a given? Did you know, and if I'd been able
somehow to hear the words would you have told me then
that I would be here now, buffeted sometimes by grief
but able to trust that the tempests will someday recede,
that I will find my way to calm waters, to a new shore?


  BlogElul 2016

I'm participating again this year in #blogElul, an internet-wide carnival of themed posts aimed at waking the heart and soul before the Days of Awe. (Organized by Ima Bima.) Read #blogElul posts via the Elul tag; you might also enjoy my collection of Elul poems which arose out of #blogElul a few years ago, now available in print and e-book form as See Me: Elul poems.