Don’t be scared
Of giant weather balloons
Or of giant thoughts
Or swamping monssons,
Of floods that raise you
Fed by ocean floor fountains
To carve inscriptions
On the sides of mountains
When you are a lion,
You are the footprint of a lion,
When you are a meadow
You are a dandelion.
I shake all over with Rossby waves,
But can I ever return to my core,
When the aurora borealis remains
Cold and closed before
Me? I cannot get to the sun,
To the light that impels
Its sluggish drifting spin,
Or extend, past the stinking hells,
My hand. My thoughts shake
Like the jet stream juddering,
And my thoughts tear apart
Like the ionized air shuddering,
And my mind turns in cyclones
Of shame and anticyclones,
And I light up my mind
And I move my bones,
And the light of the sun prickles.
In its surging motion,
It extends its rays
From its magnetized ocean.
And all, all, is peace,
The polar air and the equator,
With the atmospheric undulations,
From the seal to the alligator.
The light is on, but inside
The light is turning off. Charcoal
On our palms streaks the grass,
The trees. Because the whole
Picture is too bright, the stones
Too round, the green too green,
Because the freedom of the air
And leaves is frightening, the clean
Freedom of our eyes, the little bridge.
But our return as we reorient,
Gives life again to the meadow inside,
The birds sing more, our eyes assent.
I think (I think!) there are thoughts
That contradict my thoughts, and
Down I flutter and
I am untrue, I am unmanned,
Drunken, lazy layabout.
Every contradiction is imagined, is
Subject to the rules of time, space
And prevailing weather conditions, Ms.
Confusion. But it all fits, all in my
Skull, or outside of my
Skull. This part or that is one wing
Flapping, one beady eye
Of one crow, a black wing to stretch,
Filled with wind, singed with sun,
Half a mile in the air, black dots on
Blue, without binoculars you would see none,
But they float in light, and they
Signal, I can barely read it now,
It’s a text, I’m sure, it’s
Giving and extending, anyhow,
To be flying in this blue,
For this black to be so bright,
It’s a knowing veined with joy
Of the clarity of height.
When you cannot see the light of
Kindness that, even higher, shines in
Its molten core, then life is devastation
And all that can redeem the feminine
And masculine, the burgeoning engine,
Is the husk, the skin, the stain,
The lust. Life is a rag, charred limbs,
A doll blind, grotesque, beneath the counterpane,
A driving wind into a bleak Arctic.
And those who are fine discover
The light of kindness at its source
And they see in beloved and lover
Wisdom shining on love, filled
With dew. Our galaxies are
Vast turmoils of is and not,
Dark matter and light, vacuum and star,
Boiling forth creation. And life
Is precious without any measure,
From its home, the bright core,
Obscure, the secret forge of pleasure.
(And that is all—said the telegram boy--
That I can tell you. My knees gave way
As he gave me the message, and before
He finished, I staggered away.)
What is holiness? Is it
Separation? Is it inclination?
The intuition of a light
Almost seen, an almost realization…?
When that sense, that cry,
Swarms within you,
Your mind is wonderfully focused
And your sinews brilliance, merci beaucoup.
And the thought that drives
The tenor of your mind finds
Itself in resonance to all
Thoughts, and it pulls up all the blinds,
And you forget no forget-me-nots,
But when your mind spills its
Elixer of a holy draft,
Your thoughts scatter into bits,
Each thought wears its neighbor
Down, shoves it out of the way,
And I grow misty, I forget,
I am stumbling with the breakfast tray,
When Amalek is wiped away,
Everything is clear, nothing forgotten,
And every holy name is full, every throne,
Everything is one, tied to the dot in
The I, memory and sight shine, and
I am no longer weak, no longer soft,
The hand of God rises, all of my thoughts
Are bright as kites carried aloft,
Kites in the form of Torah scrolls,
Their might like the spring wind
Seen through jasper windows
By our children who have never sinned.
The truly great soul
(That isn’t me) [I know]
Is so broad that
The entire world couldn’t grow
Enough rooms for its
Sparks or enough wings
For its descents or enough
People for its love; kings,
Clamorings (I say, that’s
My stop, that’s what I
Can imagine) [you know your what;
What about your why?]
It meets another river,
It lives another life, its tent
Is everywhere, it is not bound
To any single continent,
(breath) (sigh) it breathes
Upon all generations; its
Words are always spoken
People speak its words in fits,
In sleep, in rage and in
Love, under bridges, between
The living room and kitchen,
Soon after turning seventeen.
The borders of its life
Rise beyond borders that
Anyone could feel
And in its sleep, at
Dawn, someone murmurs its
Words, a butter-colored glow
Inside a breakfast bowl,
Golden as the molten notes of the oboe.
Don’t be afraid (of what?)
Of living in a rarified
(And sunny?) sunny clime,
When you feel that the tide
Of your blood is torrid and
Sluggish and not worth even a damn,
That a charcoal, greasy shadow
Is hiding God’s flawless epigram.
Because there are no end of
Miracles. (Miracles?) Clean
Like the sky. On the pathways
Of the birds, clear and keen,
Everything appears as good
(Uh, maybe not in my neighborhood),
The soil takes off its sidewalks
The hill takes off its hood
Beyond thought, which comes
To its chain fence
And sees but doesn’t get
The bright, the immense--
Basically to wrap it all up--
To wrap it all up in one living tie
And the wellspring runs,
And it doesn’t run dry,
Open up the venetian blinds
So that the air will pour in,
So that the light will swim across the room
And angels will bring their next of kin.
להרים את הגורל הוא דבר הכי פשוט,
רק שהוא מאחורי הווילון ושם בלוט.
ומכל הסמרטוטים, יכולים למצוא כרפס
וגם חור וארגמן, והנחה על כל המס.
להתעורר אחר שתיה, זה ענין לא סתם פשוט,
כי המלצר מביא חשבון, ורואים את העלות.
אבל שינה של בהמה, אפילו בתחתית הדור
תהפך ברוב שמחה לרצון של אור ודרור.
The sweeter the water,
The sweeter the dates.
The sweeter the life
The well creates the pool,
The rain creates the well.
And the fresher the rain,
The brighter the asphodel.
Yaacov David Shulman