Rabbinic Literature

An older gentleman

with weary skin, who appears

to not have a home,

often sits his back

to the record store wall, where                    [Ann]

he sits his back now.                                      [Arbor]

I was happening along                                  [State]

after a midterm writing exam                      [Street]

in Rabbinic Literature,

—one of those bright

December days, squint cold—

Eighteen year old schmohawk,

sometime menschlichkeit,

man he could sleep

through the night, that freshman

in a five student senior seminar,

          why not?

My friends argue

when I say I am old,

but O October Ann Arbor,

I was younger then . . .

—and lionhearted by the touchability

          of mystics:

Nachman of Breslov, my Ukrainian Hart Crane,

I don’t care to remain lucid in the midst

of a people gone mad, burn my writings,

but make my tales into prayers,

                                                      [tuberculos’d young

                                     as his kin Kafka, a century beyond]

Isaac Luria, the Holy Lion of Safed,

a man actually born / in Jerusalem, 1534,

ohh his thoughts on Tzimtzum:

                              [the withdrawal of God

to make room for us broken vessels of primary light]

Abraham Abulafia, gentle Zaragozan,

13th century, unio mystica

                      meditation, one of my teachers . . .

now this tall, ligamental man,

one of the last of the old guard,

he still believed in…well, so he left

the room and replaced himself

with a box of sweet blue oreos

to proctor.

                             [ancient flavor,

                         the ones with the lard!]

We finished the test.

Older students demurred the oreos,

O tired, toothsome manners . . .

I took the oreos

on my walk home

where I happened upon

the older gentleman

with his back to the cold

sunbleached records.

             “Sir, would you like an oreo?”

                          “Oh . . . Sure, thank you.”

             “Here, take a bunch, I have all of these.”

                          “no, no. One’ll do.”

Where are the unhungry hands, old teacher,

the lionhearted, reaching out, all these prayers and years later,

             One’ll do.

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