The Commentary on Living

A non Jewish individual comes to Hillel and asks, with the obvious intention of provoking him, to be taught the whole Torah while standing on one leg. Hillel answers, “That which is hateful to you, do not unto another: This is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary — [and now] go study.”

–Hillel the Elder

Railroad

A Poem by Stephen Mead

You will recognize the sky,
a night one & no
true talismans
but for willful
scars & their remembrance
of the beaten drum,
the gourd & how even
the boogeyman would be frightened…..
Still, black sheep, why else
would roots be needed
if not to route
another heritage map, a map
of tracks, of trees in veins,
the veins which spread
the only cover a soul may have
when we all need biographies
to tell the truth, our truth
when History warns,
when landscapes are faith
& faith is afraid
to ask, to hope—–
Is this a new world
& can we be?

Eyes Speak

A Poem by Stephen Mead

Only through silence
unwinding like quilt names,
bolt after bolt, a banner sail
swan-light in breezes
of haiku watercolors
that the onlookers themselves
are words in for the Memorial
Parade is a river wall-speaking
of our earth’s living tongues in
panel after panel after panel.

WATCHING COWS

A Poem by David Landers

The pure sky arches over, the green Downs roll before,
but I watch cows – crowded, dung-spattered, agog.
Wet breath gathers over, shit runs beneath.

The moaning herd cranes over its fence, lures me close.
I approach, cool and human.
They crowd in meaty, stinking.

Their eyes beg. I know what they want and offer to take dictation.
They gasp. At last, they say, we’ve been recognized.
My pen is poised, but they see my camera and preen.

Wire strains, posts lean dangerously out,
they slobber for images, jostle closer yet,
for now they are starlets, whores for the lens, hungry, huge-eyed.

Taut udders quake, pretty ankles slop in shit.
Dung is the red carpet and me a paparazzo,
others are elbowed aside, the moment seized.
Poses are pitch perfect. They roll eyes, slide wet tongues
over swollen lips, grind meaty haunches, moo.

I am done. I close the camera and get on my bike.
I hear, “That all? That it? So, fuck off, camera boy.”

They’ve turned, tits swaying. A disgruntled mob,
they slouch, shitting, to the skyline.

I grab the camera, clumsy in my haste. My last image shows
the Hollywood cows ascending the ridge into sunset.