Sunday, October 18, 2009

Poems for the path

See also Poems 2010 and Malice Aforethought

The rioteous off all nations
sat round the table
Rav Kook was there, and the Baal Shem Tov too
St Francis of Assisi, and St Kabir
and I think that was Rumi seated next to you
Jane Goodall was there, a gorilla near at hand
Raoul Wallenbach and Ramana Maharshi
cut up vegetables in the kitchen
while Zinoviev poured tea from the Samovar
bekavod, said St Francis, you make the blessing
we’d be delighted to hear the holy tongue
he held open the door of the limousine, helped the old man in
made sure his coat tails wouldn’t get caught in the door
Joan of Arc and
Mandela and Buber and Bhudda strolled the lawns
Ghandhi and Harriet Tubman and Hanna Senesh were there
studying talmud and the Bhagahivad Githa
while the chasidim did Yoga and the sufis's chanted Om
Walt Whitman knelt to pray, Ginsberg and Blake whirled
like Dervishes, Mansur Al Hallaj and Ibn Bachiya stroll like brothers with
Hillel and Nisarghadattha discusssed the "I AM', Mother Meera listend quietly, Biko wrote whatever he liked

Ode to acknowledgement

acknowledgement how I crave you
more than breasts and bums
more than convenience and gadgets
more than la la land holidays
to be heard
to be seen
to evoke appreciative nods and smiles
to be applauded
to be told you make a difference
how my being thrills to even the dust of this
how I have dusted my goods
in the storefront of Immanuel
and primped and preened
and tried to seduce you
to acknowledge me
without prompting

what does it mean to be acknowledged?
to be held in an embrace
of good will
which celebrates you

who doesn't want to be acknowledged?


The sun is hot

the sky is blue

people lie on the beach

without a care

& they and the chickens

in the slaughter house


free me, free me,

free me



said my father:

“alway's they’ll always persecute the Jews.

so don’t invest in property.

or a fancy college degree

just look after your body

because that they can never take away from you.”


I look forward to the day
when the society
for the propogation of Immanuel
will voluntarily dissolve

I have a great desire to do my duty
despite having no idea what it is

Even if a million people agree with you
it doesn't make you right

Habits are stronger than mountains
habits can grind down planets
habits write novels
habits can overcome deserts and pain
habits can grind you down and
make you whole again

G?d grant me the insight
to see through dramas
especially my own


I'm so used to always doing a lot
but letting go
requires so little
its the hardest thing
I've never done


When I've enjoyed myself
or swam in the river of love
my mind asks to have the experience once again
as if I'd already left it behind
at which point
I have

Becoming You

As you age
and your body shrinks
there is less to stop
your beauty shining through
til in the end
all I see is You

It cannot be bought
it cannot be sold
cannot be bribed
can't be controlled


Perhaps G-d has watched me many times

like a scientist in a laboratory
watching a baffled rat
in an impossible maze
which has no solution;
or a pig or baboon scratching a wound
not of its on making
and that will not go away
as I have struggled to balance
energies, itches, hot flushes in the head
unfathomable yearnings for connection
and oblivion and to be held

with love or curiosity or benign indifference


uncertainty is my friend
self doubt my brother
longing is my sister
acceptance is my mother


Rust how wonderful you are
rust and decay
as you slowly oxidise
our vanities away


If I am the gardener of a garden
where suffering appears afresh with the morning dew
then as a compassionate gardener
tell me what should I do

should I practice self-enquiry
to see if I am the source of this flaw
or should I rush about with a scythe
til I can weed no more?


I found a sick pigeon
and gave it some water
when I returned
it had gone

(but its body was still there)


Bracha gathers round me
like clouds around the parched land

Sevavuni ananay beracha
kemo ananim sviv adama charuchat shemesh

The part contains the whole
the part contains the whole
hey ho the dairy O the part contains the whole

My heart is like
an overripe tomato
bursting with sorrow
and sweet mercy
bending my body-plant
to the ground
where it rots
and gives life
in equal measure

How many times
have I misdescribed something
convinced my assumptions were true?


This day
quarells and bills
and leaves dancing in the wind

Sometimes I want to explode on a bus
not like a suicide bomber
but from love
even the coughing spluttering man
pushing his trolley and cursing the passers by
is caught up in the blast and blown
to kingdom come



For the mistake of not acknowledging others
for the mistake of not acknowledging myself
for the mistake of self condemnation
for the mistake of rigidity and fear of loss
for the mistake of counting my mistakes

Bar Mitzvah

they call it a rite of passage
but from where to where
and is it to become more righteous
or more riotous
or both
hard to get it right
(especially if you try to hard)
the son of commandments
on a mission from G-d
to laugh without reservation
sing without hesitation
serve without calculation
be without justification


Don't worry
you will not forget
and if you forget
it will not matter
and if it matters
life will remind you


The Swiss Hotel, Bondi Beach

People Crowds Noise Alcohol

large screens: horses egged on with whips

glassy suffering men and women tottering, trying to feel and


"Music": duf duf duf

fried dead animal

chew. poo. chew.poo.

forget forget

out near Tamarama

dolphins cavorting in the waves


Some people make bombs
and some people make books
that explode in the heart

In meditation
we chant
"I am existence-consciousness - bliss"
but someone has unconsciously
left the aircon on full blast
so I am chanting and shocheling
backwards and forwards
faster and faster
to try and keep the body
we have disavowed
as "not mine and not me"


Doctors against illness
dentists against tooth decay
cuckoos against nest squatting
journalists against bad news
lions against carnivorism
psychologists and psychiatrists against mental illness
poets for egolessness


When I was 19 or so
I sat in a yeshiva in Yerushalayim
at the time of the third meal
when the day was darkening
with another hundred young men
and together we sang:
mizmor ledavid Adon-i Roh'ee
"The lord is my shepard, I shall not want"
and yedid beloved nefesh of my soul
A hundred voices in a darkening room
becoming the song as we sang it over
and over and over again
'til each note, each bend
hung before us in the air
but now the thread
of dusky blue purple
that held us together
no longer binds me
shed like an outgrown skin
and I have ripened into something else
but the song remains
and eternal



I came naked into this world
this world came naked into me
and I dressed it in parents and a home and family
and I dressed myself in schools and fights and memories
the first punch in the mouth, the first ejaculation
nights spent longing for the visitation of a dream woman
the surge of kindness and desire to heal the other
the unboundaried altruism of the adolescent
the terror of the deep
in an Apartheid era Soweto roadblock
the longing for form and strength
the assumption I was without these
the flight to Israel
becoming religious, all these I wrapped myself in,
like a Talit at dawn
cast out from the light the moment “I” was born
saying the Shema as I went off to the army
hoping it would make a man out of me
looking for solid ground to stand on
(if I was nothing how come I was always trying to make that nothing safe??)
loosing myself in books great and small, in depressions and elations,
like a plane flying into cloud and emerging on the other side
until the experience of getting lost loses its siren song
and I will not want to go anywhere or give my attention to anything
other than a path to becoming invulnerable
so threatened am I
by what seems outside me

the books I wrote for money or fame
(not to clarify the movement of myself to myself)
a thin amour to make me less vulnerable
and reduce the suffering of mindless heartless work

Why would you lie

Why would you lie to me
Ramana Maharshi?
with your doe like eyes
and your teapot in hand
why would you lie to me
with your piercing eyes
and your flailing tongue
I am that
and that I am

I laugh you

I laugh you
I larf you
I laf you
I lav you
love you

I laugh you

I luf you
I larf you
I laf you
I lav you
luv you
larph you
laugh you

I thought my fear of the sea
was just between it and me
but I am the sea
and I am not me
and the fear is the fear
of being free

Tefilat haDerech

oh Lord, keep me black
and fill my holes
with tar
make me run to interesting places
and don’t let them build
a highway to replace me

Footnote: Tefilat HaDerech is a Hebrew prayer for travellers, to be said when embarking upon a journey. Tefilat HaDerech means “prayer for the way”, but also literally translates as “Prayer of the road”

Sometimes when people feel naked
they wrap themselves in a story:
"this G-d led us out of Egypt
that one died for us
I'm not enough
there's too much of me
I don't belong
I'm bound
I'm free"


Boy and a puppy in a box
what looks out from between their eyes
at the dead photographer's lens?
what looks out from between my eyes
and leaps towards them
in a million unconquerable blessings?
puppy dog and puppy boy
(bewildered as I am)
your forms are just the echo
of the song that set you singing
tho you may grow bigger
and not understand why you hurt
and hurt
your suffering has an end
but not this
and when everything has gone
still it will offer
its sweet embrace

Tikun Chatzot (geulah ze'irah)

Once in Jerusalem
very late
I took the No. 9 bus home
and on the way
at a flashing light
saw a road gang
fixing a pot hole
that meant at least as much
as the beyt hamikdash.


Tikun (fixing) chatzot (midnight) is a custom whereby devout traditional Jews rise at midnight to recite prayers, mourn the loss of the temple in Jerusalem, and pray for its restoration.
Beyt haMikdash - the temple that stood in Jerusalem. Beyt (house) Mikdash (that is holy,that is consecrated)


A Yom Kippur Prayer

Avinu shebashamayim
Our father in heaven
help us to feel parented
so that we can parent ourselves
help us forgive our earthly parents
so that we stop blaming them for what we have decided not to be
avinu malkeynu
if my father is a king
then I am nobly born
a prince
for whom all things are possible

see more poems I can never get enough of and why would you lie to me and fragments

No comments: