Jewish Journal

Tag: Poetry

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  • Avadim Hayinu - A Passover Poem (which mentions giraffes)

    By Rick Lupert

    April 22, 2016 | 6:45 am


    You can have your Matzah
    your Moses, your mountain,
    your splitting sea.

    Your frogs, your fickle Pharaoh
    your bloody river, your basket
    made of reeds.

    You can have your chopped
    up apples, or dates if
    you’re Sephardi.

    But it all boils down to
    once we were slaves

  • Poem: Moses

    April 20, 2016 | 1:47 pm

    Do you dream of Egypt? Or seek traces
    of your journey before God lays you down like Isaac
    at Moriah and takes away your breathing?
    Do you remember Sinai where you were sorely tried?
    Or seek evidence that the lengthy sojourn
    in Pharaoh’s court was not of your imagining?
    Do you...

  • You’ll Never Forget the Word Hyssop - A poem for Metzora

    By Rick Lupert

    April 14, 2016 | 11:24 pm

    Two live birds, a cedar stick, a strip of crimson, and hyssop.
    (I’ll give you a minute to look up “hyssop”…still here? OK
    it’s a plant.) Sounds like Better Homes and Gardens gone wild.

    Parents: you may want to send the children into the other room.
    Not indoors? Have them...

  • Poem: Universal Homesickness

    April 13, 2016 | 3:43 pm

    Lately it’s all Egypt, and leaving Egypt,
    for me. It combines the three great plots:
    I go on a journey. A stranger comes to town.
    We leave the narrow land: they’re pressing us down.
    The stranger is the traveling magician,
    the golden calf in an amulet around his neck,
    a holy...

  • A Tale of New Kittens ~ A Poem for Tazria

    By Rick Lupert

    April 8, 2016 | 10:09 am

    I know the newborn kittens, living on my front porch
    aren’t Jewish. But they are under my care, and I’m
    having trouble telling their mother that as a result

    of bringing these beauties into the world, that she
    is unclean. I know the newborn kittens living on
    my front porch,...

  • Poem: Real Poem (Appellation)

    April 6, 2016 | 2:32 pm

    “Writing With My Shoes On” is
    a title for a poem. “Then I Did
    Something Stupid” is better
    for a short story. The trash smells
    because living things decompose
    isn’t the name of anything just
    a way of describing these environs.
    To say I miss you in French
    one says “tu me...

  • Poem: Window with Wild Garlic in Wellfleet (5 a.m.)

    March 30, 2016 | 1:54 pm

    Cinque-foiled in the wider dark
    of dim-rising day   constant-toiled and
    folded inside the winter of stormy say
    Instead of sun risen    pale steel dome above
    pond foil-pale    from all windows wood-veined
    hope for the miracle of
               burning when Moses’ staff struck

  • Poem: The casting of lots

    March 16, 2016 | 2:07 pm

    Dear Ahasuerus, it is eleven-thirty am and my number is one hundred and eighty-six. I feel the lack of communion striving for a higher purpose in this government assistance office, and it is beyond sadness and feet and the distance of aircraft and tires and inner-tubes on turgid...

  • Poem: Deceiving the gods

    March 9, 2016 | 3:44 pm

    The old Jews rarely admitted good fortune.
    And if they did, they’d quickly add kinehora —
    let the evil eye not hear. What dummkopf
    would think the spirits were on our side?
    But even in a tropical paradise
    laden with sugar cane and coconut,
    something like the shtetl’s wariness...

  • Poem: After Reading Nelly Sachs

    February 24, 2016 | 2:59 pm

    Poetry has opened all my pores,
    and pain as colorless as gas
    moves in. I notice now the bones
    that weld my child together
    under her fragile skin; the crowds
    of unassuming leaves that wait
    on every corner for burning;
    even your careless smile — bright teeth
    that surely time...

  • Poem: Jerusalem

    February 17, 2016 | 11:43 am

    In the covered shuk an orange was the only source of light,
    the spices snored in canvass bags all night in Jerusalem.

    There are always scored stones above, curtains, flags below,
    shifting their gravity from shoe to shoe in tight-fitting Jerusalem.

    The cracks in the Western...

  • Poem: Ancestry

    February 11, 2016 | 9:02 am

    How can I tell you
            that my ancestors are soap,
            that I’m descended from soap,

    and every morning in the shower
            they melt in my hands
            and run from my body,

    and that as hard as I’ve tried
            there’s nothing to hold onto,

  • Poem: Looking for the Jewish Museum in Dublin

    February 3, 2016 | 2:08 pm

    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

    January 28, 2016 | 12:00 pm

    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

    January 20, 2016 | 1:41 pm

    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

    January 13, 2016 | 12:44 pm

    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,

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