SENSE MAKES LITTLE SENSE THIS TIME OF YEAR
Sense makes little sense this time of year.
Each has reason to dispense with reason.
As darkness soon descends, the festive season
Shines out upon vast rolling fields of fear.
Old customs still survive, long loved and dear,
Now bought and sold, it’s true, as is the fashion,
Still filling faith with poetry and passion,
Giving to dark days a touch of cheer.
Reason says there’s little cause for worry:
Electric lights have long since tamed the darkness;
Even winter doesn’t wish us harm,
Taught to be a nuisance well contained.
In our hearts, though, time still stirs the slurry;
Now the dark stokes fears of nothingness.
Gifts mean more, and love becomes the warm
Sanctum in which hope can be sustained.
COULD THERE BE ANGELS WAITING IN THE WINGS
Could there be angels waiting in the wings,
How might we call upon their ecstasy?
Rainbows are mere garnish on the days
In which we are the glory and the light.
So may we hear the songs our sunshine sings,
The words which will the wonder of our ways;
May we know how good it is to be
As we celebrate the holidays,
So much in love we weep as angels might.
I THOUGHT I MUST GIVE UP ON LIFE
I thought I must give up on life
And turn into a stone;
The desert wind quite suited me:
No heart, no mind–just bone.
I thought it would be dumb to try
To want something again;
Wanting turns to need, and then
Transmogrifies to pain.
I laughed at people still in love
Who trusted someone’s word;
To make my happiness depend
On faith seemed quite absurd.
I lay alone and wonder-struck,
Sleepless in my bed,
Still numb, still dumb, still ice, ice cold,
Not knowing I was dead.
And then you came and shone upon
My meadow full of snow,
And saw the flowers only love
Could recognize and grow;
And made me feel so beautiful
I shed my cold, cold skin,
And opened up my heart to you,
And, fearful, let you in.
And now, my dear, I am in love,
With all that I’ve been through.
I know the worst of all the world,
And I believe in you.
BECAUSE ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN GENERATIONS
Because one hundred and thirteen generations
Of Jews lit candles for eight days and prayed
(No doubt a miracle–flames in empty jars),
Nor could they, spangled abroad like lonely stars,
Inter their music, or cull their recitations,
Each cantillated word is death delayed.
Some memories are miracles: the jars
Empty yet dancing with light, the generations
Touched also by fire, burning like distant stars,
History twinkling with their recitations
Lest words be forgotten and the future die. They prayed
On their way naked to the ovens; they prayed
Resting by Babylon’s stagnant waters; they delayed
Reeling into memory’s end, the empty jars
Aflame with words, afire with recitations,
In words their mountains, their rivers, deserts, stars;
Nations flowing towards silence, the generations
Ebbing into darkness, with candles they delayed …
Granted they seem strange. Their recitations
Are as alien as Aztec chants. The empty jars
Burning in the temple, the scattered stars
Returning eagerly each night. Whose prayers delayed
Interment in darkness? Which sunless soul prayed
Earnestly enough to light the stars?
Long has this love been borne by their generations.
Memories need candles. The recitations
Of children are like black meadows of fragrant stars
Mirroring the eyes of generations.
Eventually memories end: the sightless stars
Like coal dust blown across the darkness, the jars
Like unattended stones. God once delayed
Eight days the death of light. The people prayed.
Now night awaits the last of their recitations.
ALL WINTER LONG THE WILLOWS WAIT
All winter long the willows wait,
Nor more nor less than willing,
Glad to be, but just a bit
Entropic in their chilling.
Life longs ever for rebirth,
Awake to its long sleep,
As willows need their leaves for breath,
Numb until they weep.
Do, then, winter well beneath
More blankets than you know,
Immense as any mustard seed,
Content to dream for now,
Holding in your arms a light
As Earth slides through its bitter night,
Ever doomed to bliss and blight
Lest things too easy go.
SING OF THE HOLIDAYS THAT END THE YEAR
Sing of the holidays that end the year!
Each cause for celebration and reflection.
As darkness rules the earth, sing of good cheer,
Sustained by will and nourished by affection.
Of Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Eve,
Now sing that you might magnify the light!
Sing, for in your joy you will believe,
Granted grace throughout the bitter night.
Rekindle for these reckonings the fire
Each carries as a favor to the heart,
Eloquent of rapture and desire,
Twin grounds of both sincerity and art.
In quest of fellowship and common feeling,
Needing company, nor care concealing,
Giving and receiving equal measure,
Sing, then, of passion, faith, and simple pleasure!
HAPPINESS IS SOMETHING THAT ONE SETTLES FOR
Happiness is something that one settles for
After the ups and downs of ecstasy.
Perhaps one doesn’t know what one is looking for;
Perhaps one doesn’t realize one is free.
Year’s end is time to tally up the tentacles,
Needing an occasion to take stock.
Everywhere are angels singing canticles
Well beyond the confines of the clock.
Years, no more than seconds, are but moments,
Each eternity again, again.
All live on the wheel of joys and torments,
Returning to the ramparts of the wind.