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Jewish Journal

Tag: Poetry

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  • Poem: Small Antiques

    1 week ago

    Once there were three girls beautiful as gold,

    who bragged about the rare antiques each of them did hold;

    “I have a little head scarf,” one boasted with pride —

    “From my great grandmother, with squares and flowers wide.” 

    “I have a jeweled needle” — the second proudly...

  • Poem: Sticks and Stones

    1 week ago

    Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis wrote this poem about genocide on the eve of the High Holy Days earlier this year. He submitted it now as a reminder that "Never Again" should be pledged to halt the killings of unarmed Black men by police in New York and Ferguson, Mo., and many other...

  • Poem: Yeshiva in the Pale, January, 1892

    2 weeks ago

    Early morning, as Cossacks on horseback

    circled the old wooden synagogue, chants

    seeped out like smoke through the walls. Black

    hatted elders inside shut their eyes and danced

    in circles of their own before the holy ark.

    Prayer deepened the air as one fat soldier nailed

    ...
  • Something’s Happening Here

    By Susan Esther Barnes

    2 weeks ago

    People of my generation grew up with Buffalo Springfield’s song, “Something’s Happening Here,” which starts:
         "There’s something happening here
          What it is ain’t exactly clear
          There’s a man with a gun over there
          Telling me I got to beware"

    It was a song...

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  • Poem: Climbing

    November 19, 2014 | 12:00 pm

    This morning,

    in the small basement shul,

    amidst several Chassidic students lost in prayer,

    I looked up from my siddur

    to see a man in worker’s clothes climb a ladder

    and enter through an open ceiling panel.

    And I thought, Oh yes,

    he is just another one

    like all of...

  • Poem: Isaac’s Body

    November 12, 2014 | 1:03 pm

    The Lord took note of Sarah as He had promised, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken.

              -Genesis 21:1

    From the beginning she had not believed

    It could happen. This voice that summoned

    Her husband to perform these rituals

    Cared nothing for her: she knew she...

  • Poem: Elegy for a Child Who Fell

    November 5, 2014 | 2:42 pm

    This fallen child, whose empty eyes

    mourning could not harmonize,

    nor the reaching requiem

    contain the wood enclosing him

    slips from the circled reach of eyes

    without a jolt, without surprise,

    whose stuttered step has stumbled in

    to words that now embroider him.


    Published in Blue Unicorn magazine.

    George Ellenbogen is the author of five collections of poetry and a memoir, “Stone in My Shoe: In Search of Neighborhood.”

  • Poem: 55th High School Reunion

    October 29, 2014 | 3:24 pm

    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

    October 14, 2014 | 1:07 pm

    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

    October 7, 2014 | 2:06 pm

    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....

  • Guide for the Jewplexed: Ashamnu for computer users—a keyboard confession

    October 3, 2014 | 2:39 pm

    It is customary to pound one's SHIFT Key as we recite each line:

    We know our Apple better than the apple of our eye.

    We think that Backspacing will fix everything.

    We seek Control too often.

    We Delete the good with the bad.

    We have traded in our feelings...
  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • “While God Weeps”

    By Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater

    July 30, 2014 | 11:47 am

    While God Weeps,

    The children of Abraham continue to slaughter one another,

    As it was before, so it is now, hatred and mistrust fogging our ability to see the humanity in one another.  Palestinians unable to see the humanity in Isaac, Israelis unable to see the humanity in...

  • 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...

  • The end of an era

    June 19, 2014 | 2:46 pm

    When I first came to Friday Night Live
    I didn’t know if I’d ever been in a Jewish room so big.

    It was like they took the entire outside, put up walls on the very edges,
    added comfortable seating and painted the sky to look like a ceiling.

    I remember the sign I saw before I...

  • Poem: This Passover

    April 9, 2014 | 1:32 pm

    This Passover maybe we can liberate ourselves
    from holding onto what happened
    We don’t have to subscribe
    To Be Here Now but we can try
    letting go of all that happened
    that gets in the way
    of how pink Egypt is how much
    we loved one another before
    life intervened. This...

  • 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: 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...

  • 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...

  • One Israeli creation for the weekend

    By Noga Gur-Arieh

    November 22, 2013 | 12:43 pm

    Naomi Young is a poet and an artist, currently living in Los Angeles, but was born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel. Drawn from an early age to the art and surrounded by the beauty of the city, Young was captivated and often wanted to capture her feelings through her art and poetry....

  • My daughter was born on my mother’s Yahrzeit

    November 20, 2013 | 3:47 pm

    All morning I thought of my mother,
    how often we waited for her to die
    and then the affront of it

    when she finally did, as if it were
    up to her family to tell her
    when she could let go,

    as if by holding her tired fingers
    we could drag her forcibly back
    to this life, when...

  • 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...

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