For the days when you feel thin-skinned: Listen

A poem about poetry as scripture: People of the Book

I received a little new year's gift from the universe when I learned that Rabbi Jonathan Singer of Temple Beth Am had read one of my poems -- "People of the Book," originally published in the first issue of Drash: Northwest Mosaic back in 2007 -- during Rosh Hashanah services. I'm always happy when my poems find new life and new audiences.

Anyway, hearing that Rabbi Singer had opened Rosh Hashanah services with this poem inspired me to post it here. I haven't shared a poem here in a while, and though this one is a few years old, I still like it quite a lot. Although it's tongue-in-cheek, it's also heartfelt; Torah belongs to all of us, and I believe that poetry does -- or should -- too.




Sometimes, studying
Torah in the morning
I jot lines of verse
instead of sermon.

I wish we read poems
with this fervor.
Imagine a lectionary
of Stevens and cummings,

Kenyon and Williams
and Hall, read week
after week, dissected
and cherished.

Everyone knows
you needn't be
a scholar to care about
Torah. It belongs

to every Jew
who cracks a spine
or grasps the spindles
of the scroll. Poetry

too should be read
by children and parents
together, lying down
and rising up,

great lines a sign
shaping our speech
and our vision, the work
of our sanctified hands.