Commit: Came to Curse — Come to Bless

O holy Shabbes Inspiration Balak
in which Balak King of Moab brings the prophet Bilaam
from the north to curse and he blesses

I think he was a real prophet [Sifre on Deut. 357]
though I don’t think he spoke God
that is — he didn’t bless
he didn’t curse
he didn’t have the power of either [Meam Loez]
words do not curse
there is no such power
we will defeat ourselves
if left alone

Nor did he have the power to bless
because we were already blessed [Meam Loez]

Something missing in his vision don’t you know
he was blind in one eye [Numbers 24:3 and Sanh. 15a]
he was missing the eye that sees his own smallness
with his good eye he saw the greatness of God
he was that kind of prophet [Hacohen al HaTorah, v.4, p.115]

The text doesn’t say outright
that the donkey made human sounds
surely the presence of God communicated to Bilaam
through the donkey
as if the animal had spoken
or maybe it was all a vision [Guide II:42]

The mouth on that donkey
another of the ten miracles
created in the in-between time [Avot 5:9]
not the six days not the Sabbath either
between the suns the between-time
part day knowledge part night knowledge
built into Creation at the mystery time
miracles to appear when necessary
like stem cells
like transplants
like the cures we are waiting for
like the peace we are praying for
when we howl WHEN
HEY — WE ARE WAITING HERE
we want a hurry-up
something wonderful we are waiting for
created but not-present
yet
like the mouth of Bilaam’s donkey speaking
when it came time for the animal to speak
it spoke

I don’t think he was a magician or a sorceror either
though Joshua did [Joshua 13:22]
not magic we are yearning for
we are waiting for science
we are yearning for discovery
my daughter told this to the guys in the legislature
but they do not think that far
they do not see the future
and they have false certainty about the past
when it’s time when it’s time
they will never get that
it’s always God’s time don’t they know
aha – God says – here it comes
we built it in at the beginning
it was created so to speak to appear in its time
and you will not interfere with that
I have made miracles already

Bilaam was like Job
a prophet among the nations [Tanna debei Eliahu 28]
the world can never accuse us
of monopolizing prophecy
would that they were all prophets
there are so few of them nowadays
within and without the camp

In the hospital the old rebbe said
is that we are doing?
just giving language to what we know?
take the just out of that sentence, I said.
we are giving language
to what we know
a vocabulary
naming

I really loved the tents of those people
said Bilaam in his most famous passage
we quote him first thing in the prayers
you know how the tents were [Baba Batra 87a]
not one tent opening looking into any other tent opening
community and individuality
we worked it out as a people

As a person —
ma tovu oholekha Yaakov
how good are your tents O Jacob
the singular
respect the individual
mishkenotekha the places where you dwell O Israel
— the peoplehood the community
we worked out the confluence of the two

That’s what Bilaam saw and that’s what he blessed
here is your blessing, Bilaam said
now you have words for it
first, you are already blessed

Secondly, you are bound to each other
none of your tents open onto one another
you are never alone when you are alone

I can’t see into your tent
but I know you’re there

jsg

Nurturing the Oud Obsession: First Lesson

Precious Velvel sent me a note notifying me of a concert to take place next Spring in Wisconsin. Velvel’s daughter is a cellist currently studying with an Israeli master of the cello at the University of Wisconsin. The cello master will be performing with a great master of the oud in Madison next Spring, Velvel informed me.

The oud master is my teacher. He is the one I went to study with. Here is the story of our first meeting, one of many I have written about the beloved oud.

I hope you enjoy it.

jsg

First Lesson
Nurturing the Oud Obsession

Oud: eleven or twelve strings, a middle eastern lute,
without frets

The oud had erupted as an obsession in me. I first heard the sound of the oud in Israel. On my return to the United States, my wife’s aunt often danced to its music. She knew the oud players around New York, and several times at family parties, someone would hire an oud player and Clarissa would dance.

I loved the dancing, the sinewy, snake-like movements of the oriental dance, I especially loved it without the distraction of the cheap costumes in which the movements are usually clothed. But the pure movement, the rhythm of the movement, the swirl of the body like the flow of the letters of the script in which the oud music was sung — it was purely the movement that attracted me to the dance, not the clothes, not even the flesh. It was the body moving like the swirl of Arabic calligraphy.

I loved the intimate sound of the instrument: the sound of flesh and string, the pure acoustic sound. Oud means wood in Arabic and that’s what I heard in the playing of the oud, the liberation of the music lurking in the wood coaxed out by finger, nail, flesh.

I tried to find an instrument in the United States. On a visit to a small town just east of Los Angeles, I met Charles Chase, wonderful poet-proprietor of the Folk Music Center in Claremont, California who also had an appreciation for the music and the culture of the oud. He had been warehousing the finest guitar woods for decades – Brazilian rosewood, curly maples – and he found various artisans to make instruments for him. He commissioned a small group of ouds from an Armenian oud maker with great skills, Viken Najarian [see http://www.oud.net/]. The problem with the middle eastern oud is always the wood. Wood is a premium in the middle east, and the instrument makers are not accustomed to the finer woods that the western luthiers use.

The combination of good western guitar woods and the eastern oud sensate form produced ten magnificent brazilian rosewood and maple instruments. I bought one of them, but I didn’t know how to play it.

I approached the oud as I did the classical guitar: I played it with my fingers, no plectrum, like the guitar I prefer the feel of my fingers directly on the strings. I knew I owned an extraordinary instrument, but my style was idiosyncratic and I never learned enough to play the instrument in concert.

I heard that one of the great oud players was coming to my town on a cultural exchange tour of the United States. I took my instrument, arrived early enough to secure a front row seat, and sat there waiting for the concert to begin with my oud across my lap. I knew that even the sight of my instrument from the stage would be my ticket of introduction to the oud master.

I sat quietly through the concert with my oud on my lap. It was a magnificent concert. The oud player noticed my instrument. What’s that guy doing sitting there with an oud on his lap? After the concert he motioned me to approach the stage. He looked at my instrument and invited me backstage where we could talk privately.

He asked about my instrument. I told him the story of its origin. He asked me to play for him, which I did in my completely unconventional style. That’s interesting, he said, but of course all wrong.

Teach me, I said, knowing in my bones in my blood that this may be the one opportunity in my life to receive professional instruction on my instrument.

He laughed and informed me that he no longer took private students (he was much too busy), and besides, he lived in Israel.

I’ll come, I said. I meant it. He laughed more, but he saw my seriousness and relented.

Come to Israel and I will teach you. But you have to bring your instrument.

I took a sabbatical three months later and went to Israel to sit at his feet and learn the playing of my instrument from the source.

I arrived at Ben Gurion airport with a broken oud and a broken heart. I found someone to repair it, a Russian violin maker called heart of the strings [see the story called The Kabbalah of Repair at www.stonegoodman.com under Words].

After heart of the strings repaired my oud, I reached my teacher on the telephone. He lived quite far away, by Israeli standards, from Jerusalem.

His town was a large Arab town northeast of Haifa. That means that in driving to him, I drove through the three largest cities in Israel: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa.

Israel is a small country, and such a trip is only about 110 miles long. But getting through the cities is difficult, and I had no idea how long it would take me to make the journey.

I took directions from my teacher over the phone. It wasn’t until I hung up and reviewed what I had written that I realized that in all his directions, through the three largest cities in Israel, through the several different geographic zones that in Israel are so close upon one another, in all the complexity of his directions that required three free hours of driving and navigating, in all those directions there was not one street name. It was all right at the bridge. . . left at the garbage dump. . .two o’clock at the rotary. . . etc. Not one street name.

The town is named Shfaram. There are no Jews there today, it is one of the largest Arab towns in Israel. Today there are Christian Arabs, Moslem Arabs, and Druze living in Shfaram. In Shfaram is an ancient synagogue and I was told by an old Arab man on top of a nearby mountain that there were Jews living there as recently as the early Seventies, but none since. At one time, not long after the destruction of the Second Temple, the Sanhedrin (Jewish court) met there.

I started off on my first journey to Shfaram on Sunday, which is called in Hebrew yom rishon [day one] and is so named from the account of Creation. Six days of creation followed by Shabbat, day one, day two, day three, etc. The Muslims identify their days the same way. Sunday is a full day of activity in Israel, there is no such thing in Israel as a weekend, there is just six days of work one day of rest, just like in the Bible.

So on day one, I was hurtling through the Israeli countryside on my way to Tel Aviv and the up the coast to Haifa. When you leave Jerusalem you descend. Jerusalem is relatively high, and you move from the heights of the Judean hills around Jerusalem through the corridor (called the prozdor) that has connected Jerusalem to the Sea for millennia, driving down through the forested landscape to the coastal plain that leads to Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean.

Tel Aviv is a large, smelly city, very fast and busy. There are always many distractions in Tel Aviv, but I didn’t stop.

I hurtled through Tel Aviv and found my way onto the coastal highway that runs next to the Mediterranean all the way up to Haifa. About half way up the coast toward Haifa, the road relaxed from the tension of Tel Aviv, curved even closer to the Mediterranean, and for the first time I saw the Sea. I could smell it in the air.

This is the new road, that is how it is known to Israelis. On maps it is designated by a number — two — but Israelis know it only as the new road. The old road which is marked on the maps by the number four, it is parallel to the new road a little inland and often you can see one road from the other. The new road is under constant renovation, especially around Tel Aviv, and it would take a few more trips until I realized that the old road is much faster especially when there is traffic.

I came to Haifa. Both the new and the old roads lead to Haifa. I would later discover a road that leads to the north and avoids Haifa altogether, winding around the gentle sweep of Mt. Carmel. Haifa is the port city of Israel. It is built mostly on hills that roll down to the natural port on which Haifa is built. There are beautiful places to go in Haifa, but I didn’t stop.

I passed through the port of Haifa, hugging the Mediterranean but now I could see the ships docked in Haifa, from Holland, Africa, Kuala Lampur, a dozen exotic addresses. Haifa is also busy, dirty, and smelly when near the Sea. It took me almost an hour to crawl through the center of the city.

Once through Haifa, I headed toward the western Galilee. Just north of Haifa, the scenery once again changed dramatically. In the distance I saw small villages nestled into the sides and on top of the hills. It was green and beautiful, open, unpopulated compared to the Tel Aviv – Haifa corridor I had just passed through, the air was clean, cool, fresh. I followed the signs to Shfaram where my teacher lived.

I had never been to an Arab town before. My teacher’s directions were precise but none of the turns were marked with the names that he gave them. I had found my way by intuition and a pretty good road map tucked into my sun visor. I found the town easily, with not one wrong turn, and it was only when I entered the town itself did I get lost. I would later find out that there are two entrances to the town. I had taken the wrong one.

We had scheduled to meet each other at the gas station. There were several gas stations in the town and I had found the wrong one. I drove out in search of the other. I got hopelessly lost in the dirt roads of the town. Soon I was driving among shepherds with herds of sheep and goats, nothing was paved, the roads were barely wide enough for a single car to pass. Everyone stared at me as I passed. I was an hour late and looking for a phone to call him. I finally found a phone and just at the moment when I was about to exit my car to use it, I saw him in his car at the very same moment he saw me. I don’t know which of us was more surprised. He had given up on me and was on his way home. We exchanged stories, and I followed him to his house.

He lived on the edge of the town (the other edge), overlooking a meadow below and the Galilee spread out in the distant east. It was a beautiful view. All the windows were open and the air rustled our papers on the music stand. His wife served me cola and some fresh figs and other fruit. I assumed that she spoke no English so I spoke to her in halting child’s English. Later I learned that she taught English in a school in Acco.

We went right to work. He began by showing me the basics: how to hold the instrument, how to manipulate the plectrum, called a reeshi which means eagle feather in Arabic because that was the traditional way to pluck strings. We discussed the intricacies of extracting sound out of the instrument. We talked mostly in metaphor and he intuitively illustrated his points sometimes in Hebrew, sometimes in Arabic (he was delighted that I read and wrote Arabic), sometimes in English. He showed me the traditional modes, called makamat, of the music.

It was very difficult, a complete re-education for me from the way I had taught myself. It required a tremendous amount of concentration just to play through all the examples he was showing me. Learning to use the reeshi, the plectrum, was difficult because I was accustomed to playing oud with my fingers as I played guitar. We were head to head for about two hours. He gave me a reeshi that he no longer used, made of bone.

The reeshi was especially difficult for me to use. I worked it too hard over the strings. He lifted my hand and taught me an exercise, my hand floating up and down as if lifted by a pillow of air. I practiced the exercise while driving, sitting in a chair, watching television, walking down the street, gently lifting my hand up and down isolating the motion of the hand at the wrist. Do this everyday, he said.

He heard something in my playing that I myself would not hear for months. When I began studying with him, I said to myself, I’ve taken on too much here. I can’t possibly do this. He listened to me and said, we will accomplish much in the months we have together. After every lesson, he congratulated me. I felt foolish — I could not even hear the notes at first.

He told me to close my eyes and listen, to hear the notes first and then to find them on the fingerboard. I couldn’t find them in the beginning. They are microtones, notes that we do not ordinarily have in Western music, notes that are closer together than each adjacent key on the piano or each fret on the guitar. I couldn’t hear them because I had never played them before, you cannot reach these notes on the guitar (unless you bend the strings), nor can you play them on the piano. They are not commonly a part of Western music at all.

Listen, he said and I closed my eyes and heard the note in my head. Then I found it on the fingerboard. It was more mental than physical. I could only find the note when I paused to listen for it. I sat there in his living room overlooking the western Galilee with my eyes closed, trying to imagine in my mind the note I was trying to find on the neck of my instrument. Then I plucked the note. The more I listened the more I began to find the notes.

The real work of playing an instrument at this level, I realized, is internal. You have to listen, he said, then you play. One time I sat in a master class with a great Spanish classical guitarist. Someone in the audience asked him which finger exercises he used to warm up for a concert. None, he said, is not physical. Is entirely mental.

Like matter and energy, the relation of which is fixed deep within the structure of things but not perceived, the relation of mental and physical, inner and outer, clarified for me on the fretless fingerboard of my beloved oud.

I realized that in all our time together, we exchanged not one sentence of personal information about each other. It would be this way the entire time he taught me: I would show up, we would play for two or three hours, discussing only music. He knew nothing about me, I knew little about him. We spoke only music to each other and it was through the music that we were bound up together, soul to soul.

He gave me my assignments for next time. Do you have time to practice? he asked. Yes, I said, every day. He seemed genuinely delighted with me as a student. He saw that I learned quickly, and he knew how eager I was. We will accomplish a lot, he said again and I began to believe him. He gave me more directions, and I headed back to Jerusalem just as the sun began to find its way home in the west.

I was back on the road toward Haifa, as the darkness settled over the north, I watched the villages on top of the hills in the distance light up. It was quiet and peaceful in my car, the traffic had diminished, and soon I was smelling the Sea again and heading for Tel Aviv. I didn’t stop on the way home. I gobbled up a couple of sandwiches I had brought with me in the car, and I was home in Jerusalem just over two hours later.

I was not at all tired, as a matter of fact, I practiced for two more hours that night. By the next day, I had begun to read the pieces he had given me. I realized that through the music we had entered a place deeper than our differences, before the separation of Isaac and Ishmael, the music of Abraham. The oud had opened my mouth, and it was singing the world.

This is the story of one of the best days of my life.

james stone goodman
united states of america

In Jail

We have a program through the synagogue called Shalvah. Shalvah means serenity in Hebrew. It’s a support group for people whose lives have been altered by alcoholism and/or drug addiction. We meet weekly. It’s an inspirational meeting, that’s the right word, inspirational. It’s what we need to overcome our complacency: inspiration. Just that, to hear or see or learn something that moves us off our seat, out of our skin a little bit, something that strikes deep deep. Inspiration — a dip into the well of blessing.

At our most recent meeting, I read the following story. It had appeared in our town’s newspaper several years ago. It inspired a wonderful meeting, both from people who had been in jail, whose lives had been altered in an unexpected way by the prison experience, from those whose children were in jail, from those who have never been in jail but who know what it means to carry jail around with them. Jail, freedom, prison, recovery — it’s an inside job.

In Jail

I went to the jail to visit someone. A former drug user, recalled to jail for a warrant from another state. In jail, you wait and you wait and you wait. Even when you are visiting, you wait. The people who work at the jail, I noticed, move very slowly. What’s the hurry? It’s jail.

The rooms are unpleasant, even for guests. Everything is dirty, half the light fixtures are out and unreplaced. The chairs are all loose at the joints. They have all kinds of stuff stuck to them. Every surface has a filmy coating. It’s jail.

As I moved through the labyrinth of the jail to make my supervised visit, I glanced through the window of one of the doors and I saw the lock-up. There was a man in an orange suit standing in it. It was the same orange that the Buddhist monks of southeast Asia wear.

As I looked into the cell, I felt myself gulp a breath. How could you breathe in there, I thought, caged up that way?

I waited in a room with a half a dozen partitions, heavy glass, and phones like you see in the movies. I waited another twenty minutes. The person I was visiting came and sat down at the other side of the thick glass. He picked up the phone. He was also wearing an orange Buddhist monk costume.

I hope you’re not here to help me like every other hypocrite #%&*$* I’ve met, he said by way of introduction.

I didn’t know what he meant. The hypocrites I have known have never tried to help anyone. We started to talk about the difference between ceasing to drug or drink and sobriety. I told him I believed that addiction is not about substances, it’s about personalities that become attached to substances. It’s about the emptiness within, it’s about the space into which we drink, it’s about the emptiness into which we stuff drugs.

When we stop drinking, when we stop taking drugs, then we encounter the problem staring back at us in the mirror that we are now free to repair. It’s about the personality that became attached to drugs and alcohol. That’s the big difference between not taking drugs and being sober. Sobriety you have to work for, it’s hard work, because it’s about the personality that became attached to the substance.

It’s about attachment. We talked about attachment and the freedom of the personality liberated from such attachments, the freedom to work ourselves well, and sure enough, we began to sound like two Buddhists although only one of us was dressed appropriately. There in jail we began to hover over the thick glass which separated us. Somewhere above the dirt we met and spoke the truth clearly and unjudgmentally to each other. I liked him, he liked me, but he’s in there and I’m out here.

What’s it like to be in there? I asked.

He began to tell me. Not so bad. . .really, you get used to it. You carry your jail around with you, right?

That’s what we had been talking about all along, some of us are out here but we carry our prison with us wherever we go, and likewise our freedom, because it’s an inside job, jail, freedom, like sobriety, the work is inner. It’s an inside job — sobriety, freedom, prison — we get what we work, we are our struggles. We are the freedom we seek. Or we are not.

jsg

From the third floor: commit

Hello. I am starting this blog. I like the way it looks and that I owe to my man Jeff Hirsch, who has also done all my CDs as well as my web site. He does so much for me. He makes my product look great because he gets what I am doing. He took that picture above of me playing my beloved oud. On my front porch. I hardly have to leave the house.

Everything I post will be at least three generations old, which is nothing for me. I rewrite constantly. I have a rule never to post or send anything without letting it sit a while. I have certain interests [obsessions] that I write about, feel free to respond. I think you have to register to do that. This is new to me, thanks.

Now the first piece I will share. It comes from a commitment I’ve taken on, to write a long piece every week based on the Torah of that time. I am about five weeks into the commitment as I write this, and so far the pieces have been successful. What it means to be successful, etc., I have thought about so I’ve written about that too. That piece is called Night Vision.

I bring these pieces out on Friday night in some form or other. I revisit them in our learning on Saturday morning for discussion of sources and such, then I rewrite them again that afternoon. I discern the sources, by the way, after I have written the pieces. Always.

I have learned from playing music about making the commit. I have also learned from Exodus 24:3 and following: the tell — write — read [re-read] sequence. I try to create an oral environment on Friday night. And with music, you make the commit as intention, you give yourself to it the hands follow. Here’s the piece about the commit [first a Prelude]:

Six weeks into the commit
I am sharing with you my offerings
this one different not the piece itself written for the week
but another piece that came out of the piece written for the week
one act of creativity engages another and this is the other
it arose yesterday after studying and learning
and feeling myself being inhaled into the text itself
becoming a letter a vowel a dot on the page
here is the piece
it’s called Night Vision
or it’s the night vision itself

Night Vision

We are six weeks into the commit
the commitment to offer up something good
every Shabbat from our holy guidebook

The necessity to make the commit
whether it be music or life of some other kind
the willingness to fail at it maybe more than to succeed
to fail and to fail and to fail and then to SUCCEED
both failure and success understood by its internal standard
which is demanding in an excellence way not an approval way

Not even an entertaining way only excellence
something good is what I said and I meant it
to call it what it is so that the success or failure with the commit
rises before me
also the success of failure
not a matter of subjectivity but what is known through a standard
familiar to the artist or the life-lived-thoroughly person
you know the one I mean the one attached to the tree of life

As we were discussing the mystery rule of Torah
the mystery mitzvah as it were if it were understood
we might understand
everything

And the question became how do we understand
the un-understood or maybe we should call it the
under-understood
we came to rest in a place none of us imagined before
we opened a sense of redemption through learning
through guidebook Torah I suppose in a way suggested by
the Sefas Emes* that applied to us more
than to the text itself

At that moment we had become a letter of the guidebook
a dot a vowel even a period a mark on the page
we became a letter of the text and it released us
from literal
the commentators we had come to understand
had not been so released
they were searching for symmetry
we arrived at a-symmetry

They explained in a perpendicular way why Moses deserved
or did not deserve to die the way he did
gazing into the Land from the distance
thinking it should have been me

Instead he died we are taught — there —
not a place, not a location but a how
how he died – he died as Miriam died in the guidebook
by the kiss of God
God sucked up their souls so to speak Moses and Miriam both
with a kiss

In God’s world they died a sensual death
they got inhaled into God’s breath through the Divine kiss
n’shikat Hashem
from God’s perspective they were taken to the heart like
a sweetheart

What can we make now of the frustrations of their lives
or our lives for that matter?
How frustrating at the end to have been
loved into death this way

What’s not integrated, what’s left undone in the story now
from God’s perspective
how could they have passed with more intimacy and gentleness
than with this holy kiss
through which they became one being with God

With the death of Miriam following on the heels
of the mystery rule of the guidebook
the mystery paradox of the ritual of purification
the very preparation of which defiles
how does the defiling action
purify?
this followed by the death of Miriam
gone the well that followed us through forty years
of Wilderness wandering
sustenance
with the death of Miriam
as she was inhaled into the mouth of God
do we mourn the absence of sustenance
the water that followed us the well that accompanied us
the Wilderness the Wilderness

We are moving over the threshold
without our sustenance
with the a-symmetry of the various stories that settled this week
not into harmony they are not logical these stories
they are not entirely mysteries either
they are a-symmetrical stories they do not converge
they perch a-symmetrical
we will not figure them
they will not unlock the secrets of the guidebook

They are the category of recoverable wisdom
gone for a moment
undeciphered for now
but understood known in night vision
at night you understand them you really do
at night you know what it is
not to penetrate this secret
it will not unravel
it is not entirely mysterious either

We are always waiting
for that recoverable wisdom
the elders all of them
they may return to us someday
with their recoverable wisdom
carrying it this their function
to carry that sacred load through our lives
so we remember them
the bearers of our recoverable wisdom

Sustaining like Miriam’s well of water
Like the water
Like Miriam herself.

jsg
shabbes chukkat

* the Sefas Emes, named after his book of commentary [Language of Truth], Rabbi Yehudah Leib Alter the rebbe of Ger (near Warsaw), 1847 – 1905.

Commit: Shabbes Inspiration Korach 2

Here is my first share of a weekly piece
[thanks to dear Denisee for a
good edit]

O holy Shabbes Inspiration Korach [2]

Korach’s challenge
you have taken too much upon yourselves
the entire congregation is holy [Numbers 16:3]
We will see, said Moshe rabbeinu [16:5]
the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them all
Korach and all of them [16:31]
his challenge was personal
not principled. [Avot 5:17 ]

Once I was traveling in the Sinai
I put my ear to the earth and I heard
Moses and his Torah are true
we are liars. [Baba Batra 74a]

The mouth of the earth that opened
is one of ten miracles created bein hashemashot
between the suns at twilight
the end of Creation
outside of time so to speak
built into creation
at the end of the first day
before the Shabbes
between time
created then for the world to catch up to
as it were
like the mouth of the prophetic donkey
like Miriam’s well
the rainbow the manna the staff of Aaron
the shamir the writing and the pen and the tablets
some say the evil spirits
and the grave of Moses and the ram of Abraham
some also say the tongs
made from the tongs [Avot 5:9]

like transplantation
like science
like stem cells
like the saving of lives
in ways we cannot quite imagine
because the world is spinning fast fast
and what we know will in some dimly discerned future
outspin the world
then we will know
what we could not know
at the right time
the right time —

It is the hidden moon of Tammuz tonight
that hides the future this way
all the hidden possibilities that could save one of us
or all of us
some day.

O Hidden moon of Tammuz
O Master of Mirrors
let me see with the unclear mirror the dark images
let me see the moon there in the darkness
the images that are only discerned at night
by moonlight

God of the light and the dark
release me from distractions
bind me with invisible fibers to the deep story
the dark story the hidden story
the right words not the simple words
not the easy ones not even the sweet words
I want the true ones

Don’t sweet talk me
draw me into the deep
carry me not in your pocket
but sling me like a satchel
over your shoulder
let the truth plump like the moon
the dark moon the dark candle
the candle at the hearth with all its shadows

It’s the moon it’s the moon the dark candle
the reflected dark dark dark
light

jsg
Shabbes Korach

New Blog

My fan base, now approaching 4 to 5 outstanding individuals in as many states, has suggested I start a blog.

Hey Goodman, your stuff is good. Start a blog, but include no jive.

So here’s my blog. No jive, check it out.

I’ll do my best to include only thoughtful product.
I publish nothing that does not percolate/fricassee*/stew/cure/ rest

for a few days.

Let me know what you think, jsg

• French fricassée, from Old French, from feminine past participle of fricasser, to fricassee : probably frire, to fry (from Latin frgere, to roast, fry) + casser, to break, crack (from Latin quassre, to shake, shatter; see squash2) or Vulgar Latin *coctire, to press together (from Latin coctus; see cogent).