May 8, 2013
March 28, 2013
A spiritual seeker once came to a female lama and asked, “How do I attain enlightenment?” She told him, “Sit in a cave for one day and don’t let your mind think a single thought”
The man went into the cave and after the day ended he exited and confessed “I have failed. Many times my mind was filled with thought.”
The woman told him he had tried valiantly. “Try again,” she told him. “Return to the cave and this time make sure your mind is filled with thought the whole day, let not a moment of emptiness occur.”
The man went into the cave again and after the day ended he exited and confessed, “I have failed. Try as I might to fill my mind with thought, there were many moments of emptiness that I could not prevent.”
The woman replied, “You have again tried valiantly and indeed have learned your first lesson– The mind is a beast not easily conquered, yet its nature is never constant”
May 26, 2012
It was revealed to me in a dream that my fate had been sealed for exile. I fasted all day and then realized– I’m ready. I didn’t tell a soul. I’m superfluous here and besides, I can’t do my work properly, so I decided that I’ll go back to the place where I was born. I passed my wife in the kitchen. She looked one way and I looked the other. How can it be that I still dream of another? Am I not grateful for being brought here? She stays at home when I go out and wander the streets. Tonight there is learning in every corner of the city. I try to say something kind but falter.
Families are finishing their meals. I hear the song of ascents that David sang to bring up the water from the lower realms. “When we returned to Zion we were like dreamers.” A friend on the corner tells me about Hassidim who would kidnap Yeminite Jews and bring them to New York so they would not be ruined by the churnings of this land. They would tell the children’s parents that they had been saved. I wonder if I have been saved or ruined by these years here. The daughters of Jerusalem are out in the streets wearing white. I follow one until I see another. And follow her until I see someone new.
I think I see she for whom my heart yearns but it is a nun on her way to a monastery near David’s Tomb. She is going to mass for Pentecost, to commemorate the Divine Spirit resting on the seventy elders who left their houses and began speaking words of redemption. And even though they were all men of Jerusalem their language was miraculously understood by all.
I saw that it was midnight and I looked up to the sky, to catch the moment when the heavens open so I could pour out all the desires of my heart. And suddenly there was a sound from above, at first like a tearing and then like a rushing wind or an engine roaring and it filled the place where I was standing. A soldier came up to me and asked what I was doing. I looked at his gun and began to speak. He was astonished and I realized he couldn’t understand me. I didn’t have a good answer in any case. He asked to see my ID. I had planned to be jailed, but not like this. I would sit confined at my own choosing. There was nothing he could do because I am doomed to leave this place. He concluded I wasn’t in the way and I continued on a little while longer.
I passed through the empty market and returned home. My bags are packed and I looked at the painting on the wall of Mount Sinai. The two tablets reminded me of my mother and father waiting for my return, or perhaps of my two brothers, each more upright than the next. Everything is frozen. I have been given one face and have made myself another. A siren rings out and I know my prayers have not been answered. I tell my wife I am leaving but she has already taken all of her things and I realize I have spent this whole year alone, with only the groove in the bed beside me.
People always ask me what I’m doing. I can’t come up with a good answer. I have been trying to say these things with the hope that some of them will reach your heart. And if you remember them when you sit at home, tell them to your sons or daughters. And I hope that you’ll think about them when you inevitably go on your way as I am about to do, when you fall down or when you rise up again.
From the plane all the angles are different. I’m going up and going down. My breath rises and falls. You too will inevitably go your way, just like I’ve gone mine. Hidden in the engine’s roar I notice my mouth filled with laughter.
May 25, 2012
with a bottle,
I am detained by a yellowing hag.
I tear a sheet out of her notebook,
prick a pen from her pocket
and the audience laughs.
This smile I’ve painted on my face
is wider than this ache in my feet.
This bed frame creaks,
I throw off the sheets.
The house boos
then hisses like a moth
in a death dance with the flame.
Again I turn to the blinding lights.
The curtain gives no shelter,
my makeup peels away in a storm of applause.
May 24, 2012
May 23, 2012
May 22, 2012
I was busy losing myself
in moving back and forth
when he came over to me
and told me about a sheik wearing a shtrimel
and a rabbi wearing a keffiyeh
and how if were all crazy enough
and if we all bow down together
in this cramped country
there will be room enough.
And the temple will be a temple of time
and it will still descend from on high
and we will settle
but under the banner of our brother
and the room full of hassidim
like we all swayed in the shuk
and all over Israel
and throughout Palestine
husbands were kissing their wives
and the right hand was caressing the left hand.
I forgot everything I knew
and there was peace in the land.
May 21, 2012
May 20, 2012
Everything that happens
below the waist
becomes too much for me to face.
People hover by the door
talk about going, staying some more.
Renting time in the cold city,
in the husband quarter, no pity
for shimmering lies
about good times.
Everything that happens
in this place
doesn’t even leave a trace.