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Tag: Poem

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  • Poem: 55th High School Reunion

    2 days ago

    Smoked fish, an omelet station. It was a bar mitzvah

    but only the grandparents were invited

    and the child may just have died. 

    We wore on our backs our graduation pictures

    for pats or slaps, for easy recognition.

    Programs and bags were shoved aside

    in the rush to claim...

  • Poem: Sigh in Silence

    2 weeks ago

    Ezekiel 24;17

    said the Lord, this sigh indiscernible,

    although the si- contained is louder than

    the second fiddle, second syllable

    that ebbs into its chopped-off sibilance.

    The first one lasts awhile, the way we wish

    that pleasure would endure, the vowel long,

    it’s...

  • Poem: Freestyle, on the first of Tishri

    3 weeks ago

    The metaphor here is the pool, regular

    and deep as the tradition itself. First I float,

    still and buoyant in what I don’t

    accept. Then I shatter the surface, a scholar

    dissecting text not to destroy but to enrich,

    a farmer plowing and disking the earth

    before planting....

  • Poem: Yom Kippur

    October 1, 2014 | 12:48 pm

    A tree beside the synagogue atones

    of all its leaves. Within the ram’s horn blows

    and sins come tumbling down to rest among

    old cigarettes and handkerchiefs. My sins

    are dried and brittle now as any leaves

    and barely keep me warm. I have atoned

    for them before, burned...

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  • Poem: My first theology lesson

    September 23, 2014 | 12:13 pm

    Rumpled and furious, my grandfather’s friend

    stood up in a bookstore on the North Side

    and lamented the lost Jews of Poland

     

    and declared that he felt sorry for God

    who had so many problems with Justice

    and had become disillusioned and sad

     

    since He wanted to...

  • Birthday of the World – A psalm for Rosh Hashanah

    September 17, 2014 | 1:36 pm

    Today is the birthday of the world.

    But the world knows nothing

    of this invention.

     

    The world just keeps moving about itself,

    buzzing and humming, exulting and keening,

    birthing and being born,

     

    while the mind keeps on its own way—

    form-craving, metaphor-making,...

  • Poem: How to Resist Temptation

    September 10, 2014 | 2:12 pm

    Read the notes from the morning’s class

    on the Sota

    on the winds of folly

    that blow through the secret place

    where God is asked to vacate

    and no witness sees.

    Don’t mention it to a soul.

    Try to imagine the ink in which all of His Names

    are erased

    and the...

  • Florida: Schoolboy on break

    August 27, 2014 | 11:12 am

    Eager to make a catch, any catch he can,

    he grips the rod and sets eye on the bobber;

    imagining the strike, he wants to reel it in

    to see what’s lurking in the water.

    The intracoastal avenue is calm

    until bridge jaws open to let a tall mast pass;

    he loves the clap of...

  • Lost photograph of Trotsky, from the family album

    August 20, 2014 | 12:30 pm

    In that snapshot of Leon with Great-Uncle So-and-So, they’re slouching

    somewhere equatorial, two Jews exiled in direct sunlight. To the right:

    a cactus, which reminds them it’s thirsty this work — to stand for the

    workers. To the left: some sand as if to say Keep Walking. My...

  • Poem: A Theory’s Evolution

    August 13, 2014 | 12:30 pm

    The Theory of Flawed Design is not a scientifically proven

    Alternative to evolution. It is based on the everyday life

    Experience that natural selection could not have produced

    Such a catastrophic outcome. Optimists and the religiously

    Inclined will naturally prefer...

  • Poem: After

    August 6, 2014 | 12:59 pm

    After a loss you live

    with your gasp, your gaze,

    with your hungry mouth as you lift the fork.

    Something Sane. Open the door.

    A guest sits down at the kitchen table.

    Washing evening dishes:

    something simple, something sane.

    Water dreams over your wrist,

    your hand, a...

  • Wish you were here you are

    July 30, 2014 | 12:51 pm

    time isn’t the same for everyone there is

    science behind this when you fly into space

    you’re not experiencing time at the same rate

    as someone tethered to Earth & someone

    moving quickly experiences time at a slower rate

    even on Earth so as I run through Central Park

    at...

  • Poem: Jewish Dream #18

    July 23, 2014 | 3:23 pm

    The dream is not so simple — learn what is between

    your mouth & God’s ear, feel holy when the ark opens,

    know the history of suffering, when it will suffice,

    how to chant like the sea breaking against rocky shores,

    know all about absence, that a good dish is the experience

    ...
  • Peace Peace: A Prayer During War

    July 18, 2014 | 12:06 pm

    Rachel is crying for her children


    She refuses to be comforted


    From beyond the grave she cries


    Through the centuries


    Her tears flow


    Hagar cries too


    From beyond the grave
  

    Their tears intermingle


    The tears of the mothers


    Grieving over dead sons and...

  • Though we hope for change

    July 2, 2014 | 3:50 pm

    It’s the same song playing under the sun.
    Day after day, a triangle tings
    in the back of the band: barely there,
    but beautiful as chimes trembling in a breeze.
    We quiver, as when finger tips stroke our necks.
    The measures flow, pianissimo, lovely —
    until, in a shift of pace,...

  • The Announcement

    March 28, 2014 | 3:29 pm

    You were at the door with the news
    of a life inside and we wept
    that April day, the jonquils blooming
    late against the wire fence.
    We turned the afternoon into a bed,
    measured the moving sun with mouths.

    We woke in soft rain under street light,
    had a sandwich and milk, and...

  • Snoa in Curacao

    March 12, 2014 | 3:54 pm

    Somewhere the jaded go
    in search of authentic
    experience — code
    for poverty and bright beads.

    I do not need the famed liquor
    to convince me of essential

    blueness.

    Here, the first synagogue
    in the Americas: yellow
    in the Punda part of town.
    Floors of sand as they had

    in Spain and Portugal to muffle
    the sounds of worship.


    Patty Seyburn’s fourth collection of poems, “Perfecta,” is forthcoming from What Books Press in 2014. She is an associate professor at California State University, Long Beach.

  • Poem: To my children

    March 5, 2014 | 11:41 am

    Instead of using the staircase,

    risk the tendrilled stalks of ivy

    and drop into the muddy copse below.

    Your great grandfathers understood mud

    as they slogged from village to village

    peddling pots and ribbons and scissors.

    They knew days with no light, nights

    with no...

  • Poem: The World Is Not Conclusion

    February 12, 2014 | 4:01 pm

    Answers the size of silence. Tall as tidal winds. The fracture of letters and numbers pulled like wool up to my chin. Grid the knowable world from the sweat of my bed. An empty set. Count the seasons, count the sheep, count the dead. If word equaled father equaled alive again. If...

  • Poem: Sigh in Silence

    January 31, 2014 | 10:54 am

    Ezekiel 24:17

    said the Lord, this sigh indiscernible,
    although the si- contained is louder than
    the second fiddle, second syllable
    that ebbs into its chopped-off sibilance.
    The first one lasts awhile, the way we wish
    that pleasure would endure, the vowel long.
    It’s hard to...

  • A Theory’s Evolution

    January 23, 2014 | 3:04 pm

    The Theory of Flawed Design is not a scientifically proven
    Alternative to evolution. It is based on the everyday life
    Experience that natural selection could not have produced
    Such a catastrophic outcome. Optimists and the religiously
    Inclined will naturally prefer evolution as...

  • Kabbalah

    January 16, 2014 | 2:11 pm

    Two eyes, one nose, one mouth, and what could be
    more perfect? Maybe the small fraction of
    a smile she aims at his glance secretly
    across the table, kabbalistic love
    that no one else divines, and later in
    the loft their silent battle not to wake
    her friend down on the couch,...

  • Friday afternoon: The rabbi’s wife

    December 19, 2013 | 12:00 pm

    Inside the yeshiva he’s busy naming things
    while I, like Eve, watch the smallest movements
    in the world — grass bending as if it aches,
    a bird that carries lust in its beak.
    Through the window I’ve seen him bent over
    the text, saliva flying from his mouth
    as he reads and...

  • Poem: Isaac Bashevis Singer in the Reading Room, 1968

    December 12, 2013 | 12:59 pm

    This old man in the armchair’s plush embrace
    waits for his thoughts to settle. He is not
    my grandfather despite the wrinkled face,
    gleaming skull, vast snout, gargly voice, and odd
    twist of lips. They sound like men from the same
    village in an old country bordering
    on nowhere...

  • Poem: Sound Advice

    December 4, 2013 | 4:10 pm

    You have to know
    who to talk to:
    choose a dry
    cistern
    so that what is said
    is kept there;
    like the rabbi’s
    knowledge
    never leaking out,
    it will remain sweet
    as water in a sealed pit.

    Bor sud, in Hebrew, is a water-proofed cistern, or sealed pit, which holds all the...

  • Poem: Jacob After Fording the Jabbok

    November 13, 2013 | 4:54 pm

    All night long I
    wrestled with an angel — his face
    obscured by hair the color
    of light — arms, strong thin
    swords           we tumbled
    on the road as two animals
    in the heat of spring — we could not be
    parted — bless me, I said — and he touched
    my thigh — the hollow of my...

  • Discourse on the crippled God

    October 30, 2013 | 12:51 pm

    A man swings through the open doors on crutches,
    his long arms thick with muscle like the Christ
    whose marble shoulders shouldering the cross
    are sculpted mighty as Odysseus’s.
    Before he crosses forehead, heart and chest,
    the cripple leans one crutch against the wall
    and dips...

  • Poem: In the same key (Chayyei Sarah)

    October 23, 2013 | 11:32 am

    They come together to bury their father
    in the cave where Sarah’s body lies.

    (No one imagines the vaulted church
    -turned-mosque with painted ceilings

    or the synagogue, or metal detectors
    to keep armed men from getting through.)

    Isaac and Ishmael wash him with water
    and...

  • Poem: Alphabets

    October 16, 2013 | 1:33 pm

    I have always believed in the alchemy of letters 
                                      but never in their permanence.
           
    Just look how the aleph was stripped of its
    rightly earned place to begin the Torah
                                      how the bet is sheltered —
    but only...

  • Poem: Mold

    October 3, 2013 | 4:53 pm

    When Noah prayed
    You sent him a flood
    and charged him with the safety
    of all animal life.

    What I got was rain.
    I forgot to wash my shirt
    so it grew mold.

    In every generation
    the holy men we have
    stand on different levels.
    We all get the hero
    we deserve.

    On behalf of mold
    — and on behalf of my wife,
    who loves when I do laundry —
    I will try
    to be worthy.

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