Jewish Journal

Tag: Poetry

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  • Poem: Looking for the Jewish Museum in Dublin

    3 days ago

    Wandering down a blind alley. Scratched
    into a Civic’s crimson hood, IRA, the two

    vowels separated by the consonant
    over which so much blood has been spilled.
    The left side window is a spider’s web

    of cracks spreading out from a hole
    opposite the driver’s head. The temple...

  • Poem: Genesis 4:8

    1 week ago

    how still how pale he lies there
    Abel on the delicious young soil
    he’ll never know
    he’s but the first
    the crimson weave of wrath and longing
    his brother wore
    will entangle untold others
    all kin every single one
    to those flung onto the hungry soil

    only his brother’s mark...

  • Poem: New Year of the Trees

    2 weeks ago

    In the Diaspora we celebrate —
    Jews in Argentina when the leaves
    are falling; in New England when
    snow chokes the ground; in
    the Sonora Desert when cactus
    blooms; in L.A. when perhaps
    it may rain; in Scotland when
    there’s still little daylight.

    Yet we understand that earth...

  • Poem: Ferns

    3 weeks ago

    Wind thrums
    these green harps
    into sudden music
    low under the trees
    almost beneath
    our notice

    though cut
    at the stem
    they could fan
    the likes of Cleopatra
    into lazy

    First published in Plume.

  • Poem: Towards Nineveh

    January 7, 2016 | 11:22 am

    The road winds       
    like loose wool        
    turned by paws       
    on green carpet.       

    Things in the distance squat—        
    tents perhaps—       
    preen themselves in desert twilight, we
    stare with lanterned eyes.   

    Horse offal turns dark
    before darkness       

  • Poem: Death March, 1945

    December 30, 2015 | 12:07 pm

    “There was a muddy ditch at the side of the road
    where the road took a sudden turn. If I could jump —.”
    Five Muselmänner abreast, the trekking dead,
    skeletons on the march to some other camp.
    “I came up with a plan: If it wasn’t already too late,
    if the weather held, if the...

  • Poem: Why God Created Light

    December 16, 2015 | 11:27 am

    We’re Jewish, Father said, so we’re not
    like other people. We’re a little bit different.
    But it’s a good difference. It’ll be boring if
    everyone worshipped in the same religion.
    Jews believe Christ was a great man. He
    just wasn’t divine. I haven’t finished reading
    the Old...

  • Poem: The Nineteenth-Century Novel II

    December 9, 2015 | 12:54 pm

    I am the heroine
    in a novel, and there are twenty pages left.
    Someone is reading the novel, holding
    the numbered pages in their hands, almost finished.
    Every night, in bed, they read my story
    with the novel propped on their chest.
    I want them to read quickly, but they read
    a page a night, without
    urgency, as if there is no rush
    before turning off the light.

    From “Morning Prayer” (Sheep Meadow Press, 2005)

    Eve Grubin teaches at New York University London and is poet-in-residence at the London School of Jewish Studies.

  • Poem: Again, These Blintzes

    December 3, 2015 | 1:13 pm

    Months ago you rolled the thin pancakes around
    the cottage cheese and froze them for this December
    morning, as the sun glistens the ice crusted branches
    and snow weighs down the spruce needles. Now,
    you heat them on the cook stove and I wake, the way
    my grandfather woke, to...

  • Poem: Jewish Holiday Tattoos

    November 24, 2015 | 11:57 am

    The blue dove on my wrist — shadow of wing
    with an olive branch floating above:

    from the last night of Chanukah, when we used
    Jewish Holiday Tattoos to mark each other with
    flags of Israel, six-pointed stars, arks, torahs.
    They were funny, we thought, as we sat down

  • Poet ponders what transpired after photographer’s shutter clicked

    November 24, 2015 | 10:38 am

    The 1913 photograph by August Sander on the cover of Adam Kirsch’s third book of poetry, “Emblems of the Passing World: Poems After Photographs by August Sander” (Other Press), shows two young women in high-necked blouses gazing at the camera over cups of morning coffee. One sits...

  • Poem: Terezin

    November 18, 2015 | 2:54 pm

    With my hair soot red
    as coals above my grandfather’s bones,
    buried near the poems of Desnos,
    I hurried through the Gate of Death,
    up the gallows’ knoll,
    the executioner’s chiseled wall,
    to see the Ohre’s shores rivering out
    to wag the Elbe’s long tail,
    and hurried through...

  • Poem: On Her Deathbed, Bessie Beckoned My Mother Close

    November 11, 2015 | 11:50 am

    Once, a pocket was not attached to a woman’s clothing,
    but tied around
    her waist with a string or tape.

    It would contain cellar keys, a paper of pins, a packet of seeds, a baby’s bib,
    a hank of yarn or a Testament.

    Or enough money to be buried,
    so she would not burden her family.

    Published in "5AM," Spring 2006

    Patty Seyburn has published four books of poems. Her most recent is “Perfecta” (What Books Press, 2014). She is an associate professor at CSU Long Beach.

  • Poem: Limen

    November 5, 2015 | 11:15 am

    I think of my mother’s family, circa 1936 — folding Warsaw and Berlin in their steamer trunks, beneath prayer shawls, pictures of the dead. That, shipped to Honduras, they learned to speak new languages the way they learned to eat tortilla after years of bread. That they built...

  • Poem: The Revised Version

    October 28, 2015 | 12:13 pm

    1:1 God hovered over the welter and waste
          on the face of the deep.

    1:2 His brooding condensed
          in droplets of light
          and conceived the shore of speech.

    1:3 And he cried, Yehí! Let-it-be!
    1:4 From his own breath he fashioned

  • Poem: Jerusalem

    October 21, 2015 | 2:33 pm

    In the dream I walk with my teacher across a field.
    It is day, the field
    a dying brown.
    Lifted by sudden wind we stand
    in midair, our wool coats hanging
    like heavy curtains.
    When we drop back down, our boots in the dust,
    I ask, “Why did that happen?”
    She says, “Because we...

  • Poem: Ocean Parkway at Night

    October 15, 2015 | 10:33 am

    Rabbis feed pastrami to their worries.
    A truck’s horn won’t stop carping.
    Pale kiosk lights refuse death.
    Houses choke together
    without lawns. Avenues tangle
    without reason, and the elevated
    bowels of the subway drip
    sparks on an underworld of streets,
    where station wagons...

  • Poem: A Word Before the Last, About Loss

    October 8, 2015 | 1:15 pm

    “For I will go into the grave unto my son mourning”
    Genesis 37:35

    Precisely because you are alive
    there is no comfort in this world.
    Because wherever you are not
    I search, and where I hear your step
    you have not been or left a mark.
    So the roads are trampled by one,

  • Poem: Commentary

    September 30, 2015 | 1:19 pm

    Sometime between the chaos of Genesis One

    and the Tower of Babel in Eleven,

    God created language with all its busy verbs,

    its vowels and consonants,

    its dark commandments.


    The Patriarchs might say it started with Eve,

    and point to the gossiping of women. 

    But it...

  • Poem: Sukkot in Jerusalem 5743

    September 24, 2015 | 11:03 am

    eternal cycle of fig and aloe olive and oleander:

    a quiet place to watch

    the reaching skyward

    the kicking free of this unquiet dust

    the finding eyes above and a mouth


    everything old here

    everything left for dead

    maneuvers into sunlight


    October 1982

    From “...

  • Poem: Angels

    September 16, 2015 | 12:33 pm

    If the groans and shrieks of martyrs, the shofar cry

    of Yom Kippur really rend the heavens, then I picture it

    like this: clouds are ripped as if by swords, and angels spill

    and spread across the world.

                                                Once a rabbi fled from...

  • Poem: Days of Awe

    September 9, 2015 | 10:59 am

    September. The moon’s gone empty

    as though it too seeks a place inside itself.

    The pool equipment stowed, the mowers

    returned to the shed. A quiet ascends

    like the silence after bells. Soon

    the night birds will call other night birds.

    Each call a small pledge.

    It is...

  • Poem: To Scare the Devil

    September 2, 2015 | 2:38 pm

    The reason the Jews blow the shofar

    on Rosh Hashanah is to scare away

    the devil, Father said. He doesn’t come back

    until after Yom Kippur, which gives

    the Jews a chance to cast away their sins.

    If the devil was around during Yom Kippur,

    he would catch our sins, and...

  • Poem: Ritual

    August 27, 2015 | 1:20 pm

    Is it for our smiling faces
    that she gets up at seven on Fridays to put an apron on
    and stand in front of a hot stove, even in the summer heat
    when the air conditioner’s not working well, even when
    her ankle is swollen and her medicine is making her throat dry
    and her body...

  • Poem: Dante Lucked Out

    August 19, 2015 | 1:16 pm

    T. S. Eliot held that Dante was lucky

    to live in the Middle Ages

    because life then was more logically organized

    and society more coherent. The rest of us however

    can’t be as sure that if we’d had the fortune

    to walk along the Arno and look at the pretty girls


  • Poem: For Rose

    August 5, 2015 | 3:20 pm

    Practical, we take the names of our dead

    because the dead are sturdy — stern mantles

    of opportunity, watching as we shoulder them

    from windowpanes, closets. Rose — one curling r 


    makes hundreds of us, Rachels, Rivkas, Renates,

    Richards, Ronalds, this slip of a woman

  • Poem: Dwelling Place

    July 29, 2015 | 2:03 pm

    Summer beetles augured blue ponds in every leaf

    of the cherry tree.

    Cooler that way. The load lighter.

    Open wells for the sun to fall through.

                        Pennywhistles for wind. 

                                    Burn marks from God’s magnifying glass.

    Is that...

  • Poem: Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha I

    July 27, 2015 | 9:50 am

    (in which he fails to reverse the decree)

    We thought poverty would protect us

    but it did not.


    We thought suffering would weaken us

    but it did not.


    When the golden eagle sat on our temple,

    we did not value gold. 


    When the taxes were heavy

    we had nothing...

  • Poem: Seamstress

    July 16, 2015 | 10:58 am

    My mother saved wrapping paper folded in neat angles and put away for never The tear should be made on the left side, over the heart Hundred of buttons in a deep, metal tin Made vertically, beginning near the neck, and extend down about three inches I took lessons at Singer Sewing...

  • Poem: Echo Locating

    July 2, 2015 | 12:25 pm

    If you are lucky

    you will find your echo,

    not the cartoon version,

    perched on a canyon’s edge

    with the empty yelling

    & cheeks like apples,

    but the space that extends you,

    fills the void

    & becomes you

    the way twigs return to a tree,


    First published in “The Breath Before Birds Fly” (2013).

    M.E. Silverman is poetry editor at Blue Lyra Review and review editor of Museum of Americana and author of the chapbook “The Breath Before Birds Fly” (ELJ Press, 2013).

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