Peace #11

From Psalm 121

A song of ascents

I lift up my eyes unto the mountains

From Ayin will my help come.


[Esa ei-nai el he-ha-rim

mei-Ayin ya-vo ez-ri]

From Ayin

From Nothing

Consult the silence

The name beyond names

Nothing.

I am Nothing

In Nothingness

Salvation,

If you were thirst

If you were hunger

Your waiting

Would keep the world for peace.

jsg, usa

Peace #10

Jeremiah’s Plan for Peace

Behold, the days come says God
— Jeremiah 31:30 ff.

A new agreement
a starting over always
My teachings shall I place
in your deepest —
in your hearts.

I will be God
you will be human beings
we will each live
up to our dream
of one another,

Certain knowledge
no one will blame
accuse or intimidate —
everyone will know Me,
from the littlest to the
highest
starting now.

The past –
entirely forgiven.
I have forgotten it
we will cease calling it
past.
it is now
— the future.

Who lights the fires of the future?
Who writes the stories?
The sun by day
The passing of the moon
the lights by night
who stirs up the Sea?

If you can measure heaven above
search out the earth below
— just as likely
I will abandon you.

Never.

jsg, usa

Peace #9

I am your double coursed
Sister

I am rescuing you
Slowly slowly
My modal figure
My yearning for voice.

I am a single line
I am the melodic snake
Advancing by half-flats.

I am the hands of Ziryab
The blackbird
The one born in Baghdad.

I am oud player to the court
Of the Umayyads
Cordoba
8th century,
Ziryab
The dark one.

I am your hands
I am the reeshi in your hands
The eagle feather
As you pluck the strings.

I am the fifth course of strings
Introduced by Ziryab –

the soul —
added to the four courses
the four humors of Aristotle.

I am the soul —
The fifth course.

I am the Jew
Oud player to the court of the King of Morocco
I left everything in Rabat
Now I sit in Beer Sheva
And I will not leave again.

I am the hands of the old man
Sitting by the Seven Wells
The sixth course
A single string
I am resolute
The absolute
The sixth course.

I am your hands.

jsg, usa

Peace #8

Rashi’s plan for Peace
[see Genesis 45:24]

Joseph discloses himself to his brothers
You sold me out

I am Joseph your brother

The brothers are going home
To reunite the family
Do not become agitated on the way [Gen. 45:24]
The last Joseph says.
What do they have to become agitated about?

Consult Rashi the poet,

Do not occupy yourselves with a matter of halakha [law]
Do not take long steps
Do not quarrel along the way about the matter of Joseph’s sale.

Rashi calls this the pshat [the plain sense].

Rashi’s plan for peace

Don’t get theoretical
Stay away from general principles.
Make peace out of relationships,
person to person, not theory to theory.

Take small steps, one at a time, make peace manageable.
Peace will take time. Start with a treaty.
Start with a cessation of hostilities.

Peace starts now.
Stay out of the past,
out of guilt, recriminations,
who did what to whom,
begin the peace now.
Stay away from blame and shame.

Let the peace begin.

jsg, usa

Peace #7

First Lesson

He knew nothing about me
I knew nothing about him.

Home in Jerusalem three hours south
More practice, more that night.

Before the separation of Isaac and Ishmael
We are the music of Abraham.

The oud had opened my mouth,
It was singing the world.

jsg, usa

Peace #6

Jeremiah’s Plan for Peace

Behold, the days come says God
— Jeremiah 31:30 ff.

A new agreement
a starting over always
My teachings shall I place
in your deepest —
in your hearts.

I will be God
you will be human beings
we will each live
up to our dream
of one another,

Certain knowledge
no one will blame
accuse or intimidate —
everyone will know Me,
from the littlest to the
highest
starting now.

The past –
entirely forgiven.
I have forgotten it
we will cease calling it
past.
it is now
— the future.

Who lights the fires of the future?
Who writes the stories?
The sun by day
The passing of the moon
the lights by night
who stirs up the Sea?

If you can measure heaven above
search out the earth below
— just as likely
I will abandon you.

Never.

jsg, usa

Peace #4

Peace on the Edge

Everything has a dual nature
My heart is two
Our prayer place is built of two
The meeting of two worlds like a city joined together
If only we could make the peace prayers properly
Twice
The world would be redeemed

Master of all the worlds
All the prayers are peace
Drip drip dripping
But the words have no lift

The lower worlds are bestirring themselves
The Great Heart of the World longs for peace
We are waiting for the true persons of compassion
You know who they are
We are yearning for peace
the silent peace, the true peace

May great peace flow from the upper worlds like a fountain
(Y’hei shlama raba min shemaya)
It will be beautiful
Like our lives

But for now
Save us
For a few more
Twenty four
Hours

amen

Poems for Peace

Until the cease-fire
I am writing
poems for
peace

true peace
the enduring peace.

#1 — For Mazen

Whenever you speak
I will listen for Umm Kulthum

What if she were singing
In both our heads

And we had no history at all
Other than that

#2 – for Mazen

Mazen, I heard you say
You chose peace
I chose peace also
And I am built stronger in peace
Independent of events
Because you chose peace

When I am most uncertain
I think of you

#3 – for Fuad

I hesitate to call you
Though I can’t sleep
I am occupied by the news
Every night

And I am loyal to my family
I am missing you as friend or
Holding my breath
Until a cease-fire

And I can walk into your store
Resume
The drinking of tea

Where it left off.

I Open My Mouth and Sing the World

I Open My Mouth and the Oud Sings the World
I give this oud to my Palestinian friend

I told my friend I had a gift for him
The gift was broken I thought
Beyond repair
I had learned at another time
That brokenness is not permanent
It is not a curse
It isn’t determinative
That something broken when repaired
Is often stronger than
If it had never been broken
At all
About wood I learned this from a Russian repair man in Jerusalem
His name — Heart of the Strings.

This oud
This sound that links my friend to myself
It speaks a language that we share
Entirely
We share a few words of Hebrew
A few words of Arabic
Our languages are close
Foods the same
Dances close
Music entirely the same
We love the oud
It is the instrument of our long lost relation
Broken many generations ago.

That’s not why I love the oud
I love the oud because the sound is here
In my chest
It is the sound to me of our shared ancestry
We are middle eastern people
We may have lost a relational mutual history
But whenever we hear this instrument
Play it
We remember.

I repaired this oud myself
With the help of my gifted friend
A fixer
I put new pegs in it so it would hold its tuning
I sanded the pegs myself
Found some older pegs that fit better than the original ones
We put a new fingerboard on it
I played this instrument
Repaired it so I could give it to my friend
Whose hands
Like my hands
Will make this instrument sing
Whose voice
Like my voice
Sings the common song we have recovered
In knowing each other —
Friendship.

Let peace rise from our voices
Our hands
The kitchen
From the repairs that we make
From knowing each other
Remembering that we are
Much closer than we think
Almost
The same.

jsg, usa