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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fast Day 104 May 30 2009 {Miracle of the Loaves}

Miracle of the Loaves

I didn't expect pizza with
crazy bread, too -
too many carbs I think
but the doorbell rang, hot 'n ready
and there was delivery guy
with oven mitts,
a determined campanologist
he rang and rang until I came
to the door and asked what number
he was looking for?
and it was mine
but I had not ordered pizza,
and certainly
not pizza with more bread aside.
I shut
the door
and he started to change ring
Double Plain Bob Minor.
So I opened again, and it was
like an angel there, who said
and said yes, no pizza -
and there was no bread -
and I don't owe him nuthin'...
he wanted to mark the hours
at the monastery, when
I looked around, and I was indeed
before the refectory door, and
heard a lector reading.
So I said yes.
And today he rang Matins, Nones,
and Terce - and tomorrow,
and all our futures.
The pizza never gives out, and when
I turn quick like I see monks
running to hide themselves
within my pantry...but the
garlic bread replenishes itself:
strange miracle of the loaves.

© 2009


Matins, nones, and Terce = 3 of the daily prayers of the RC Church observed in monasteries.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fast Day 103 May 23 2009 {Blind Michael and Sidi Mahmoud}

Blind Michael and Sidi Mahmoud

Before the shrine of Sidi Mahmoud
blind Michael sat,
forest clearing,
mountains of the Lebanon.

Each pilgrim dropped a coin
into his bowl;
pleasing to God!

Blind Michael said thank you!
munificent one!
oh, prince of gold!
oh, daughter of grace!
father of beneficence!

But when Joey and I came with
our aunt to the Sidi Mahmoud shrine:
falling coins,
flashing sun,
grass green in a magic circle...
thanks, oh, young hero of the clash
of arms
and rider of the neighing of stallions!
That was to Joey, and my aunt did not
like that name,
never having known blind Michael to wax
so eloquent over alms.

Then the rest of our coins,
I let my small coin fall:
Oh, Madeed! thanks!
Madeed al Halm....
far dreamer!
dreamer of welfare,
dreamer of far away dreams!
falling through the air
to bless us,

My aunt gathered us and ran
all the way down the mount
and locked us in
the house.
The neighbors ladies swam into
view, within their pools of tea
and gossiped about mad Michael
and what madness all was that?

But Joey to the war did go,
and heard the calls of horses
and the clash of arms;
and I became a dreamer...
and both of us had to die
before we found our tongues
within that bush of ghosts
that spreads far beyond the creek
at the bottom of the gully
beyond the meadow of our youth.

© 2009


Sidi Mahmoud = a man named Mahmoud at whose tomb prayers are answered.
before entering, coins are given as alms to the poor.

The poor man bestows blessings upon all who give alms, but my aunt thought he went overboard one summer, when we were visiting.

Madeed al halm = literally: stretched out or extended (of) dream. It is not an easy translation.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fast Day 102 May 17 2009 {The Final Video}

The Final Video

when Aunt Serena passed away
she had a video eye sunk
within her memorial stone,
which played the flash video she
had made years before, to everyone
who visited her grave, like an
ancient mariner's tale:
hello, there! I am in Beulah
and free from all my worldly pain!

it went on and on to all who cared.
And after that I came to visit
and when I darked her grave, she said
hello, nephew! and I ran like sixty
'cause i knew there was no" nephew" in
that flash memory video em-
bedded in that memorial stone!
I sat a long time at the river
to see if it were truly cool
beneath the willow trees, but
I crept back to Serena's grave and
she welcomed me again!
she said the dead are come again
to help their kids in times of stress, there
is no cutting of the line of life, the
lines of nurture...and here they are!
all your ancestors standing by,
gathered by the river here,
whose name is "runner", and who
goes to the "great-water" nearby;
the first stand of poplars to our south
is the "wide-eyes-gang", and they are
"height", "crest", "great-lament", and "bends-in-wind".
Wow, I thought, does God almighty
have a name for everything, for every
blade of grass: stick, shoot, sharp, tib, and scrim!
You'd have to be nuts to remember them all!
And, she said, to the north, how truly grand
the pines; the first is "clotho" ,
"the spinner" of fate, who spins
the thread of mankind's days; and who gave
birth in time to the middle pine,
"lachesis", or "the tailor", who measures
the length of of every thread; then
the third tree "atropos" who cuts the thread,
"atropos": "who-will-not-turn-aside"
in any wind or urging.
She said all named beings would
spring to our defense.
But what could go wrong, my friend? thought I
Cousin Joey was getting prepared
to visit Phantom Fury in Falluja, but
that was like shooting fish
in a barrel of water, wasn't it?
Was it not 2004? What predatory drone
was there that sought us out, rich as we were
and immense as is our proud tradition?
What had been spun,
what had been measured,
and what will be cut? what suits of many-colors?

Beulah land = heaven

In ancient Greek mythology, the Fates were Clotho, who spun the thread of life, Lachesis who measured it, and Atropos who cut it.

Phantom Fury was the second and final battle of Falluja.
After all the talk of Falluja, you probably have never yet heard that it was anciently Pumbedita, which was the site of great Jewish learning and where the Babylonian Talmud was formed.
"The days grow hot, oh, Babylon! 'Tis cool beneath thy willow trees!"

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fast Day 101 May 9 2009 {Mothers' Day 2009}

Mothers' Day 2009

Mothers teach us how to pray before we
go to bed, kneeling beside white sheets
and using the currency of our innocence
to try to set the world upright again,
and save us all from atom bombs
and things that go bump
in the night.

Mothers teach us how to dress before we
go outside - we who want to naked run
and throw our clothes in a thoughtless pile -
she buttons up the surrounding collars;
and orders the chattering teeth
of shameless zippers
to subdue!

Mothers bake yet are not bakers; mothers
heal yet are not doctors; they open eyes
to art, many never having held a brush;
design pillow forts, yet aren't architects.
the grace of God they
dispense, yet are
not priests.

Mothers are an ancient holy order,
taken vows of silence, crying why? but
never speaking, door keepers of God's grace
that beats upon our shut monastery door:
she bids enter! the divine
visitor to wash
and eat!

Mothers sit shiva upon their dreams and
never let us know the shipwreck of desires
they had for the princes and princesses
of their fruitful bodies, for mothers yet
may resurrect the hopes and dreams
of mankind grown old:
young harts leaping!

young harts leaping:
from the Song of Solomon.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Reprint for Levine {Culinary Succoth}

This is a reprint from Oct 2008 for Mr. Levine, who asked that I reprint it, since he could not go back and find it himself. You may be familiar with Mr. Levine, whom I refer to as der Engel Levine - a reference to a Bernard Malamud short story.

As a reprint, it is not this week's poem.

Culinary Sukkoth

We had a gingerbread sukkah,
resplendent in design;
the gum drops were from Wal-Mart,
the inspiration, mine.

Our harvest was enormous,
of wheat and tares combined;
gathering in by hands full,
hushing them while we bind.

Some we threw in fire,
some we threw in graves;
some we cast on water,
and some in silos save.

Some we kept in sugar,
to keep and crystallize;
to roof it as our skach,
and eat it with our eyes!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Fast Day 100 May 1 2009 {May Day}

May Day

It's Lady Day again! Come Spring!
Come all ye patience handsel blooms!
Bring forcing gardens' flow'ring quince!
Bring hot house bulb and lilies, too!
Bring Holy Mary's crown again,
a flow'ring diadem - come Spring!

The cold and rains of April past;
come unnamed flowers all!
together with your nam├Ęd kin:
the rose, the daffodil, and pink,
and sweet those fragrant dandies in
the lawns so newly green;
this crown of May will last!

May God Almighty bless us all!
Conserve us safe from harm!
And all the Saints step forth! Attest!
conjoined in joyful choirs and lit-
anies assembling, breaking forth in song!
Pray save us from our Fall!

Mom Mary strides forth like Orpheus
and takes hell's subway ride
to stand beside her faithful folk
in Time's still darkling fields of War,
to nurse the bleeding, wounded souls to health;
restore the World to peace renown!


a gift or reward; here a reward for enduring winter; a Scots word, I believe.
Sometimes I use it with the sense of mitzvah, or a blessing: a divine reward.

Orpheus descended even into Hades to rescue his beloved Eurydice.
So does Mary hazard all for her children.

The meter is odd and seems to change, the 5th lines lengthening in the last two stanzes.
I'm not sure why I did this. It's pretty much still hot from the oven, though.

Today I was helping my father with his gardening, a chore which he makes exhausting because the plan is in his head, but it comes out piece by piece, and there is a lot of walking about and talking about the ravages of winter, the harm the snow plows have done, the water level of the river, and so on.
So I have to pray for patience and humility, being by nature impatient and demanding.
While walking under the cherry tree, it dawned on me today was May Day. I stopped walking and he looked at me. He asked me what I was doing. I said I was praying to Our Lady, because it was May Day, and I had forgotten. I forget what the prayer was. I just stopped and prayed something or somehow - I don't really analyze it - then started back walking.

He is a church goer, but I don't think he's used to people suddenly stopping and praying.
When we had finished, I started to think about the poem for this week, and this came flying by - a handsel or reward for being a nice guy.