Monday, November 26, 2018

Reviving a Bygone Era: Poetry

Once upon a time, I wrote a lot of poetry. For ages, I was convinced I was going to be a poet. I went into university as an English major set on the idea of being an intellectually advanced poetry-composing artist. My dreams were swept under the rug after a visit to my dentist. Yes, during that visit I saw an English diploma hanging on her wall, and, after asking her about it, I decided that I absolutely was not going to go down the path of a wasted degree (but honestly, a necessarily evil, they're all pretty much wasted these days).

I did my best to continue writing, doing slam poetry, trying to keep my mind nimble, but somewhere along the line (during my first marriage) I fell out of love with it. I miss poetry, I miss being able to sit down and the words just flowing like they were already out there in existence and I was merely recording them (think: the Oral Torah) for future generations.

On that note, here's an oldie but a goodie that I once penned in the days when I was generically Missouri born and Nebraska grown Amanda Edwards, shortly before my Reform conversion.


I fill the shoes of a Jew, and the
wind that floats by your face may be a piece of
me.  but I am no longer in a ghetto.  for now,
they say.  I am in the shul, next to you where you ponder
how history has repeated itself.  I feel like
repetition, with your fingerprint on my history.

northern Africa, Poland, Germany … history moves like
water in its cycle.  changing, but always coming
back to it’s primary form.

and you walk past me as if you can smell it on me,
like fresh matzo or kosher wine.

perhaps I have the nose, the nose that seems to run,
everyone thinks, in centuries of g-d’s chosen.
or maybe you smell on me gelt, centuries
of money lenders and bankers. used and tossed
aside as needed and beckoned upon by kings and
other gentiles. you know it’s christianity’s history
that swore Jews to the money trade.

but it is merely the badge I wear on my arm,
this g-d forsaken yellow badge.  the chutzpah
of the goy who invented such a symbol, a mark
of some kind of chaye.  centuries after it was
created it is stapled to the skin of everyone who
was promised the holy land, who cherishes the
Sabbath and lives respectfully for and of life.

i didn’t kill your g-d.  Jesus was a liberal Jew.
do you notice that for centuries my community
has wanted nothing more than to live in peace?
and we are created and destroyed by being moved,
expelled, killed, murdered, our precious objects
of Passover and holy days stolen and ruined.
my halakah has been forked by your history.

museums are the resting place for my history, my
blood, my memories are kept in plastic boxes
with little cards and dates that mean nothing but to
say this is when a branch broke, a leaf fell, a vine
was ripped from it’s place and made to forget.

my torah, your book, my Talmud, your prayer,
your weapon, my words. my death, your hand.

my mother tells me I am merely a luftmensh, blind
to what will happen to my people someday. she
says to me, ‘my little bubbala, you know that
history has murdered a memory, soon the memory
will be murdered as well.’  we are all g-d’s chosen.

fershtay? do you understand? there is no rachmones
for anything my history has done for your present.

but history has learned nothing of itself, and I remember
everything of it, as it is in my blood, my eyes, my nose,
my fingers.  i breathe and sigh history’s mistakes everyday.

so let us lomir redn mamaloshn.
12 million voices, half murdered.
ashes to ashes, dust to dust, dirt to shmutzik.
you or I, it makes no difference.

little key:
shmutzik: dirt
shul: school
matzo: the bread made during Passover
gelt: money
gentiles: non-Jews
chutzpah: nerve, gall
chaye: beast
halakah: path (in Judaism)
Torah/Talmud: key Jewish books
luftmensh: someone with their head in the clouds
bubbala: darling
fershtay: do you understand?
rachmones: compassion
lomir redn mamaloshn: literally, “let’s talk Yiddish” or “get to the point”