Sunday, March 8, 2015

From the Notebook of J Michel

Ode to death, love and G-d 

It was a long night –I remember it well.
The silence after they came and took you away;
You were absent, but we kept on as best we could,
Dancing in the library, inhaling the leathery smell of books
To the strains of Tchaikovsky and Brahms,
(I, holding his child-hands in mine,
he, looking up at me with a brave and terrified face).
The silence was a constant reminder.
And to stay the hovering presence
We shared all your favorite stories –
Like all the foods –now painfully unavailable –
That would remind you of us
Until they came for us, too.
My love, if you’ve lost your faith in God,
I understand.
I remember (too well) when God turned away as we died
Separated and miserable –
Alone and gasping amidst the flailing bodies in gas chambers.
But every nightmare has its end,
And if you can’t have faith in God –
If the prospect is too much like dying all over again –
Have faith in me.
Have faith that I never stopped loving you,
That I will never disappoint you –because it’s not in my nature.
Death was not the end to you and me;
You see, I have all these little sparks inside me,
You breathed them into me long ago,
Echoing the lights of heaven.
I’d almost forgotten they were there
Until I found you again.
So breathe –my love, breathe into me again,
(Ignite and flame  -I will not consume you);
and somewhere, in a chorus that echoes quietly through space,

God’s name will resound.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

From the Notebook of J Michel

Salt and stones

I keep asking God for a sign,
To remember me as God remembered my ancestors.
I am suddenly unmoored,
disconcerted and discontent
from a brief and unsettling brush with the deeply sacred.
I fell into Sunday –a stone dropped into the ocean,
spent Monday and Tuesday wandering through the in-betweens
(Wednesday and Thursday got lost in subway tunnels).
I’m asking for a miracle, I suppose,
like the manna that materialized suddenly
in the nothingness above
and fell into their waiting hands,
I’m praying feverishly for love
to rain down upon my desolate soul.
And then I stop and ask myself really –
if God were to make water fountain from stones in song,
would I be grateful
or would my mouth continue to taste salt from the sea?

From the Notebook of J Michel

The same room

You and I
we are standing in the same house.
There are many rooms and somehow
we both chose the same.
You –who smell of comfort and apples –
are on one end.
And I –my face smeared with ash and honey –
am on the other, singing the bittersweet strains of a new day.
I am looking at the window,
Considering all the glorious possibilities of twilight,
But you –
You are staring at the walls,
Considering how they make this room
more of a prison than a sanctuary.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

From the Notebook of J Michel


In Egypt –
In the mud and impregnable narrowness
Of slavery
We dreamt of freedom.
Before Israel –
Discouraged by famine and plague and war
(the shocking tremors of impending disaster)
We dreamt of coming home again.
At night
Disconsolate from long silence and solitude
I dream that
You call me sh’chinati,

Calling me home again.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

From the Notebook of J Michel


My boots on the pavement are setting off
Mini shock waves that make me light headed.
Somehow leaving and entering (and the six years in between)
Have caused my disparate lives to come crashing full circle
Into me
And at night –when I lie awake waiting for sleep –
Death finds me wearing the head of a jackal

And the need of a man.

From the Notebook of J Michel

Home (a song cycle) 

In the desert
the sun rises over the palm-lined boulevards
and the giant silicon-breasted women
that linger over the starred avenues like watchful angels.

I awake inside an unfamiliar apartment
(another sleepless night).
I wipe away the restless dreams
that sealed my eyelids shut while the sun was absent
and put on skinny jeans and faux leather,
sunglasses to face the deceptive and mild
winter of southern California.

There are text messages and phone calls,
emails that I’m going to ignore;
I’m busy trying to capture the quaint and restless quiet
of Santa Monica before the hording masses
descend on the strip.
My rain boots are busy picking up
the bits of the city that go unnoticed
(especially during the long hiatus of the rains).

I walk and walk,
past the art deco mansions whose ghostly inhabitants
are too lonely to die.
I listen to my boots on the sidewalk;
the hum and whiz of traffic creates a perfect counterpoint
to the thrumming solitude pulsing with every beat of my heart.

As the traffic lights change without much warning
I see myself in sudden flashes
like the bedraggled pilgrims that came to the Temple
to sacrifice the harvest’s first fruits
and begged for God’s mercy.

It’s just, I want to belong with you
and I hated myself for being so honest
when we sat on the beach and I offered you my words
remembering a different temple.

I came here to find myself

and instead I found you.