Thursday, October 8, 2015

From the Notebook of J Michel

All I have to give you 

Dear one,
You remind me of a daughter
I used to have when I wore a different face,
And I love you fiercely –
You cannot even know.
When I see you smile I remember
Standing at Sinai
(when the secret name was uttered among us)
and I feel the need –like the air I breathe –
to teach you what I remember.
When I hear you laugh
I know that life will lead you
To narrow places
And I cannot bear the thought of your suffering.
Because, dear one, the only thing I have
To give you are my words
(perhaps a kiss, maybe a hug).
Remember them, little dove,
Keep them with you;
When it comes time for you
To leave Egypt they will be
The only thing light enough to carry.
Remember what I teach you, my love;
It’s not so much that God commands
As I just can’t help this impulse.
My only desire is that God
Will remember the voice of your soul –
When all is dust and decay –
And you will rise with the wings of eagles,
Utter my name into the chaos,
And glide over turbulent waters.

From the Notebook of J Michel


Please understand
I only shut you out because I was afraid.
The New Year always catches me by surprise
and I am reluctant.
Since I was a child I’ve been bitter –certain
that death meant extinguishment
by virtue of your nature.
Do you know how I grieved?
Sitting in a house haunted
by the absence of light.
Of course you do –
you were sitting there beside me
as I shed each precious tear.
Finally, into the silence
you leaned in close and whispered in my ear:
Weep if you must,
but know that I work in mysterious ways.
Let me bloom my flowers onto thorns;
Let the dawn awake before the sun rises.
Listen to my voice
and when we sing in dissonance
(which is bound to happen because
you are constantly breathing)
Remember that I love you
enough to resolve it.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

From the Notebook of J Michel

Elul Day 13 (Mountaintops) 

I thought I was standing on mountaintops,
Surveying the hopeful and inviting terrain below.
I was ready –I’d thought you lead me here because you were, too.
I guess I just wasn’t close enough;
I guess the pomegranates and grape clusters
Only seemed giant in my naivety.
I guess I wasn’t close enough.
Or maybe I was too close;
I turned to you, asking for comfort,
You stood silent.
I consulted you, begging for encouragement,
But you stood silent.
I shouted, cursed God and fate;
You told me this was the way things had to be.
So I, in a heroic effort to conserve meager resources,
Chose not to fight you.
I told myself I have bigger battles to engage –
Though I can’t help thinking
That we’re both in the same war.
Not today.
Today will not be the day
That we fight to enter the Promised Land.

From the Notebook of J Michel

Elul Day 1 (The first time)

It was my first time;
I was nervous.
But you understood
And you somehow managed to guide me
Even as you gently teased –
Showing me which arm to use,
How many times the strap goes around the forearm,
How many times it goes around the palm before the middle finger.
My father never wrapped t’fillin,
I told you.
These are my own set.
You gave me the words to say and when.
And I never loved you more
Than when you refused to pass judgment
On my earnest awkwardness.
I told you that I wanted to wrap t’fillin –
Binding head to heart with my hands –
In order to hear God speaking to me.
I couldn’t tell you how I wished,
When you wrapped your own t’fillin,
That heart and head would meet
And you could hear me.

From the Notebook of J Michel

Elul Day 1 (Havdalah)

In West Hollywood
the retreating sun is kissing
the tops of buildings good-bye.
The quiet men in black hats, ties, suit jackets
slip into the prayer-houses,
separating themselves from the rest of the city.
In my room
I sit and talk to the after-image ghost of you
(what was left when we said good-bye),
watching the light fading into the horizon.
I should be with you. We should be together.
But instead –in the city of weeping angels –
I am across town, trying to separate myself from you.
It doesn’t make any sense.
When I was shattered you made me feel whole –
you were a glimpse into a world where I felt at home.
You were rest. You were peace.
It doesn’t make any sense;
you are preparing to enter into union
with a subtle world waiting to be created.
I should be with you.
Yet here I am,

separated before this day has even begun.