The honey of insight, its expanding lines,
Its corridors of law, its tender motherliness,
Has flailed and decayed, lain amidst the grass,
Tumbled from the sky, shaken from the vines,
Sweet in sour blight, bright obsidian,
Offering delight, clinging like regret,
Offering surcease, restless tedium,
A search for light, for dark, then oblivion,
Here this milky light, luminescent ray,
Limns a skeletal outline of a cave,
And on the ground the glinting moistness of a stream
Seeps from mountain rain into autumn's day.
Oh fierce nostalgia.
Oh voice raised before the rolling breakers,
The sliding waves,
The slick sheen of sand,
The silent burst of a blazing pearl
Sinking slowly in the blue-black sky
And fading, disappearing,
The sea and sky had no words
But the rumble of the waves
The silence of the stars
And the sailing of my mind.
Words, what? carved the hollow of a shell,
Filled (for the time) with sweetness…
Naive soul, you danced without another,
But invited only God.
The spirit grows, like spirits gold
And every day grows more mature,
And it is raised with loving will
And deeds as green as copper ore.
And like the apple from the tree
That bears its sweetness from within,
Surpasses branch and crown and stem
Its liquors all within its skin.
It knows the paths of life and death
And grows as peaceful as the pond
It gathers wisdom high as kites
Whose wings to joyous wind respond.
Do not deprecate
The smallest of your thoughts,
A term of empty years,
A planted row of naughts,
O they illuminate
This sidewalk, buckled, crazed
More than imagined lights
That in your mind have blazed.
Every soul of cobalt blue
Or cinnamon or Persian red,
Whose colors seep, like bleeding paint,
From gold to green, from a to zed,
Must loose its arrows, clear its eyes,
And see the branches, withered, bare,
And meditate on broken leaves
That drop upon the maidenhair.
Beyond the law that justice bids,
Beyond the scope of human sight,
These colors seep into the ground
To flame the sooty anthracite.
No more than what I have, I have,
I give just what I give.
I am no more than what I am,
And living thus, I live.
I lack the words, or will to speak,
Or items to impart,
Perhaps this due to modesty
Or a discouraged heart.
A smile to smile or tip to tip
Or confident elation
Has slipped and spilled like mercury,
In silver perturbation.
I fled the moose, I stalked the bear,
With insulated outerwear
I walked the streets, I spotted trains,
I flew above the fruited plains,
I sang of home, I sang of mist,
I watched the spot where couples kissed,
Where mallards bent their heads and found
The weeds upon the sedgy ground.
Oh luminous, oh holy sphere,
I watched your faces disappear,
I rose to stars, I sank below,
I saw the flaming river flow.
Oh peanut shell, don’t disappoint,
Oh whiskey in this shabby joint,
Oh brilliant barman, set them up
Until I raise this loving cup.
Yet still and all, and all and still,
I have not paid my hotel bill,
And still I fail and still I wail,
And still I fear the lonesome jail.
And still I groan, bewail my fate,
I’m grizzled, gargoyled, toothless, late,
And still I goad the mice to flee
And leave me cleanly, wanly be.
Yaacov David Shulman