April is Poetry Month

Invocation

Walk with me won’t you please
help me over the floating stairway underneath,
my beggarly feet slip.
Without your everlasting arms I might float away

another shore where someone else awake at night
might pick me up and bring me home.
Known there in the blood, closer than breath.
Pull me to your chest, your heart —

my heart
your science my soul.
Assemble the healers
tell them –

there is nothing
that cannot be revived.

jsg, usa

Honoring the Teachers

Ben Zion Wacholder z”l

He first joined the library staff in the Fifties
Los Angeles
He then joined the faculty.

Once I asked him if he would teach us
Certain esoteric texts —

“Oh yes, I remember those,”
he told me in the doorway of his office
“when I was a child we learned them. . .”

He then quoted from several of the texts
Reading them off the air above his head
And I realized that he did all his teaching
From memory.

By that time he was almost blind
Or as they say in our language —
Sagi nahor,

Full of light.

He taught Talmud at our school
He quoted all his texts from
Memory.

The memories he separated out
From his complex
Origins —

He was born in Ozarow, Poland in 1924
Survived the war years posing as a Christian
Under an assumed name.

After the war to Paris
Then Bogota
New York
Los Angeles —
Cincinnati where he taught
Until his retirement.

It was also Ben Zion Wacholder
Who bootlegged the Dead Sea Scrolls
By computer with his graduate student,

Reconstructing the texts with glue
[glue a computer program created by his student Abegg]
Thus bringing the Scrolls
[Which had been withheld for decades]
To the world.

Dr. Wacholder taught us that the Teacher of Righteousness
Moreh ha-Tzedek of the DSS
Was not an historical figure

Nether was his nemesis
Kohen Ha-Rasha
The wicked priest

But were set against each other
In the figurative struggle for the future,

The future –

Rest in peace
Ben Zion Wacholder
1924-2011.

jsg, usa

Small Alef poetry

Small Alef poetry

Raise up your eyes
north south east west
look down
can you count the dust of the earth
so will be your seed.

The future –
more than we imagine
the present
a mess
but the future
will spread itself out

north south east west
we will get lost in vastness.

Maqam Bayat
Every portion has a characteristic maqam (plural maqamat),
musical figure, from the Arabic,
cognate in Hebrew Maqom – signifying Place