Third Treasure


Joseph hid three treasures in Egypt
one was revealed to Korach
one revealed to Antoninus son of Asviros
and one hidden away for the righteous
in the world to come. [BT, Pesachim 119a]

I went searching for the third treasure
In my dreams I was directed to Prague
Then in Prague by a bridge
You know the story —
A guard sent me home
But not before I asked him –
Do I qualify?

No way, he said,
Go home and look anyway.

I went home, dug up my back yard and found a document
Written in Hebrew with a little Arabic –
It read:

Ten miracles created bein hashemashot
bayna shumus
between the suns at twilight
outside of time as it were
built into creation at the end of the first day
before the Shabbat
created for the world to catch up
so to speak –

The mouth of the earth that opened
the mouth of the prophetic donkey
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/the jinn
and the grave of Moses and the ram of Abraham
some also say the tongs
made from the tongs — [Avot 5:9]

I showed this to my friend the surgeon
technology where there is no technology
stem cells
the arc of discovery that we follow with hope
the saving of lives in ways we cannot quite imagine

The world is spinning fast fast
and what we know will catch up
outspin the world in the future
then we will know what we could not know
when at the right time
the right time

the mouth of the earth will open
and we will assume

Soon — the hidden moon of Tammuz
concealing the future
all the hidden possibilities that could save one of us

or all of us

some day.

jsg usa

Maqam Nahawand
C D E flat F

Every Shabbat is characterized by a maqam
A musical figure
Hebrew cognate maqom
Signifying Place.

Father’s Day

On the phone she said, my husband is dying, can you come? He drove out to her apartment, she was sitting in her front room and she wanted to plan her husband’s funeral. He was lying in the other room in a hospital bed. Two sons came in.

She wanted to know the order of prayers and events at the funeral. The man suggested that the first thing was to accompany him through the passage. What do you mean passage? she asked innocently. The passage of his soul. His soul, she said, she said it again — his soul — and again. His soul, yes, she said. There was a moment of good silence.

Then they all gathered around their beloved’s bed and sang prayers quietly into his ear and his sons kissed his forehead and rubbed his hands.

The father’s eyes fluttered as his sons kissed him. Later they were talking back in the other room.

Tell me about the soul, one son asked. The man mentioned five names for the soul, the last of which was “unity.” All were beautiful words, each referring to a deeper sense of self culminating in unity.

This is the goal of the soul’s journey, one of the sons said, to return from where we came. Maybe that’s God, he said. There was silence in the room, all of them floating on their own thoughts, and the soft whirring of a fan coming from the other room.

“I feel his soul reaching for God,” one of the sons said. “Yes,” the man said, “I feel it too.”

“He has a big soul,” his other son said. “I feel his soul in a circle of great souls,” he said. “His soul is making its journey home.”

“Yes,” they all said enthusiastically. They returned to the father’s bedside, they kissed his head, read him psalms and poetry.

It was Father’s Day, and later that afternoon, their father died.

jsg, usa

Small alef; Mystery Blue Shelach 3

Mystery Blue

Conclude with the mystery blue
within the fringes on our garments —
a thread of blue
[to look and remember]
the blue came up once every seventy years —
until recently.
Nowadays I carry it around in my bag.

A minority story saves us
a thread of blue reminds us now and again:

There were twelve
ten of them were full of **it
one of them laid flat down on the graves of the ancestors
got strong there
brought another one in —

From the future
we prefer
the minority report
because it’s true.

jsg, usa

Small alef; poetry Shelach

Maqam* Hijaz
D [1/2] E-flat [1] F# [1/2] G

*a maqam is a musical figure, a partial scale,
a modal form, cognate of the Hebrew Makom, signifying place.
Each Shabbat has a maqam associated with it.

Came a Generation

Came a Generation

Came a generation
who spoke only dark words.

In the generation of dark words
we started over —
it was not unexpected
but we had not prepared
to avoid it entirely.

Later two more were sent out
a lady stuck her head outside the second floor window —
What you boys looking for?

The Land fool. . .

It’s yours, the hearts of all the people
have melted.

jsg, usa

Small alef; poetry Shelach 2

Maqam* Hijaz
D [1/2] E-flat [1] F# [1/2] G

*a maqam is a musical figure, a partial scale,
a modal form, cognate of the Hebrew Makom, signifying place.
Each Shabbat has a maqam associated with it.

Send Somebody

Send Somebody

Send him send him send me —

From the narrows I call G-d
G-d answers me with expansiveness

What did two know
that another ten did not?

Twelve are sent out
Was it safe?
I don’t know.

The other ten were certain
There are giants in the Land –
Scared the hell out of us.

One took a side trip
he went to Hevron
prayed on the graves of his ancestors
and from that drew strength
to be optimistic —
He told his friend.

Now we are optimists, they said
to no one in particular
[but I was there]
What’s an optimist? I asked.

One who fails with enthusiasm
all my negativity flew away

then and now.

jsg, usa

Small alef; poetry Shelach
Maqam* Hijaz
D [1/2] E-flat [1] F# [1/2] G

*a maqam is a musical figure, ,
a modal form, cognate of the Hebrew Makom,
signifying place.
Each Shabbat has a maqam associated with it.

Meditation Before Going to Work 2

Dear Straubie’s,

I think a person should love his or her work
I love food
If you stick me in the olive oil department
I can discourse for hours comparing the oils
And the olive who grows only where winters are temperate.

I’m a little far north for a good olive
but I often summer in Italy
where the oils in the southern provinces are heavy
in the north the oils are milder
olio extra vergine di oliva in Tuscany is a favorite
as well as the darker oils from Umbria
especially around Assisi

Spello in particular.

I know everything about olive oil
which is by the way one of the seven holy species
mentioned in the Hebrew Torah
not the olive but the olive oil
I can discourse about that too
so my experience has prepared me well
for a position at Straubie’s.

Don’t you think I would be a fine addition to your store?

Put me in the tomato sauce aisle
I love tomato sauce and know everything about it.
I mean the perfect red sauce
the superiority of red to white sauce
(white sauce an inherently flawed concept) —

The perfect red sauce
that elevation of the lowly tomato to holy consequence
the interpenetration of spices, herbs, flavors, tomatoes
a sauce the identity of its ingredients but the ingredients not
the identity of the sauce —

as if there is something that makes it sauce that is larger
more consequential than what comprises it.

The perfect red sauce, when it’s made right,
you cannot pick out the individual tastes,
unless it’s a wrong sauce
then you know there’s too much basil
or it’s too heavy with oregano, or bay leaf, too sweet,
or too olive oily
but when the sauce is right
it’s a perfect blend
and it just is, not this or that
it just is

the perfect red sauce.

It is many and it is one
many ingredients one perfect taste
not a combination of independent tastes
but one glorious irrefractable, irreducible taste.

This is, in a word, the mystery of sauce, the perfect red sauce
I can talk about this for hours.

Also, the coffees and teas are a special expertise of mine.
I know everything about coffee and tea
And my taster is keen.

I am always waiting,

Yours truly,

jsg, usa

Meditation Before Going to Work

Application for Employment
Trader Joe’s Corporation
Livingston, California

Dear Prospective Employee:
Please answer in 100 words or less why you want to work at Trader Joe’s.

Dear Trader Joe’s Corporation,
I love food and I love food
I love the packaging of food —

Love to taste the difference between the medium hot
And the hot

I know everything about salsa
Dancing and eating.

I love to dash off during working hours
And taste a little coffee now and again.

I know everything about coffee.

I love a decent tea around 4:00 PM
And a nice cookie

I know everything about tea.

I love to compare the fruits
When they are excellently ripened
When in season
When out of season —

I am an authority on fruits.

I love to share with others
All the details about the foods
That I know.

I know everything about food,
Except pesto.

I don’t like pesto
And I think people who do
Are snobs.

And I don’t drink so
Do not put me in the beer and wine

But I will make it up to you
I swear.


jsg, usa

He Could Have Hid

He could have hid in a cloud
the cumulus drawn up over his face
I just can’t talk to another child of Israel
he might have said
I need some time to myself

but he didn’t.

He dusted off the menorah he saw floating in the sky
Build it this way, God showed him —

The light from its central shaft
that’s the Torah light
it will need a little lift.

Please —
don’t leave me in the dark.

jsg, usa

Small alef; B’haalotecha
Maqam Sigah
Sigah trichord: E half-flat F G

Maqam Sigah is associated with mishkan, sanctuary, menorah.

How To Build an Oud

How To Build An Oud

Take strips of fine wood
Pass on the indigenous Mediterranean woods
They are not fine enough
Go west and find guitar woods
The curly maples
The Brazilian rosewoods
An old teacher next to the desert
Is warehousing wood away
He will sell it to you
If you convince him you have the eastern
To translate his western guitar woods.

Heat up the wood and stretch them over a
A large gourd.

Place inside the sound space —
The sound of hooves from a distance
The sand flying in your face
The crack of a tree before it falls into water
The buzz of insects at night.

Let the wood breathe enough
Before you cover the sound holes
With filigreed mosaics —

Or put nothing over the holes
And with you ear —

Listen to the belly of your instrument
For its beating


jsg, usa