A Summary of Torah

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

Greeters

A Poem by Michael H. Brownstein

We are the official wavers of the trains.
This is what we do.
Twice a day we come to these tracks to wave.
Sometimes those in the train wave back.
Sometimes they do not.
And we always smile.
Yes, even in the rain and cold we are there.
We greet the passing of the train

Yellow Sub

A Tale by extetsjoibe

My mother, when my eldest brother Osman was born, nursed the eldest Khan, Abu Nutsal Khan. Then she nursed the second son of the Khan, Umma Khan, and reared him; but Akhmet my second brother died, and when I was born and the Khansha bore Bulach Khan, my mother would not go as wet-nurse again. My father ordered her to, but she would not. She asked: “Should I again kill my own son? I will not go.’

Then my father, who was passionate, struck her with a dagger and would have killed her had they not rescued her from him. So she did not give me up, and later on she composed a song . . . but I need not tell that.

Hadji Murad grew thoughtful. He remembered how his mother had laid him to sleep beside her under a fur coat on the roof of the saklya and he had asked her to show him the place in her side where the scar of her wound was still visible.

He remembered the fountain below the hill when holding onto his mother’s sarovary (loose Turkish trousers) when he went with her for water. He remembered how she had shaved his head for the first time and how the reflection of his round bluish head in the shining brass vessel that hung on the wall had astonished him. He remembered a lean dog that had licked his face. He remembered the strange smell of the lepeshki (a kind of flat cake) his mother had given him – a smell of smoke and sour milk. He remembered how his mother had carried him in a basket on her back to visit his grandfather at the farmstead and left him there. He remembered his wrinkled grandmother. He remembered all of this. But he remembered most how his mother would wake him with her bright sun even after she was long gone, turning down the path away from her parent’s home without even a look backwards.

Where is your mother now? someone asked.

My mother is now in Shamil’s hands, he answered, and she must be rescued. When he smiled, he captivated everyone around him.

No, one of the others said. This was long ago. She is no longer in his hands.

Yes, I know, he said. I just want to see the scar one more time, that’s all. I want to see how her scar became a bright yellow sun.

Cowboy Jake

A Poem by Author unknown

Jake, the rancher, went one day,
To fix a distant fence.
The wind was cold and gusty;
The clouds rolled gray and dense.

As he pounded the last staples in
And gathered his tools to go,
The temperature had fallen;
The wind and snow began to blow

When he finally reached his pickup,
He felt a heavy heart;
From the sound of that ignition,
He knew it wouldn’t start!

So Jake did what most of us would do,
Had we been there
He humbly bowed his balding head
And sent aloft a prayer.

As he turned the key for one last time,
He softly cursed his luck.
They found him three days later,
Frozen stiff in that old truck.

Now Jake had been around in life
And done his share of roaming.
But when he saw Heaven, he was shocked –
It looked just like Wyoming!

Of all the saints in Heaven,
His favorite was St. Peter.
(Now, this line ain’t really needed,
But it helps with rhyme and meter)

So they set and talked a minute or two,
Or maybe it was three.
Nobody was keeping score
–In Heaven time is free.

“I’ve always heard,” Jake said to Pete,
“That God will answer prayer,
But one time when I asked for help,
Well, HE just plain wasn’t there.”

“Does God answer prayers of some
And ignore the prayers of others?
That don’t seem exactly square
–I know all men are brothers.”

“Or does he randomly reply,
Without good rhyme or reason?
Maybe, it’s the time of day,
The weather or the season.”

“Now I ain’t trying to act smart,
It’s just the way I feel.
And I was wondering, could you tell me —
What the heck’s the deal?!”

Peter listened patiently,
And when old Jake was done,
There were smiles of recognition,
And he said, “So, you’re the one!!”

“That day! Your truck; It wouldn’t start,
And you sent your prayer a flying,
You gave us all a real bad time,
With hundreds of us all trying.”

“A thousand angels rushed,
To check the status of your file,
But you know, Jake,
We hadn’t heard from you, in quite a long while.”

“And though all prayers are answered,
And God ain’t got no quota,
He didn’t recognize your voice,
And started a truck in Minnesota!”

Fingernauks

A Poem by Michael Estabrook

She’s sad I know but I don’t know what
to tell her to ease her anxiety we’re all in the same boat
just noticed my fingernails are dirty how
did that happen all I do with my hands is type in here
and work the remote so weird where did the damn dirt come from
there have been plagues in the past I tell her
all over the world and they have fizzled out eventually
this one will fizzle too just needs
a little more time

Myth

A Poem by A. J. Huffman

With fire hovering
just outside my fingers,
my eyes began
to smoke. I was the flame,
fabled gift, stolen. From gods
I reigned, a vision of destruction,
of deception, of severance.
Faith dispersed:
ash
to dust
in wind.

“We live in an extraordinary time. Our thinking styles are severing us from our families, our religions, our ideologies, and nature. We are caught up in a pace of social and technological change that makes our work, business, and education sources of anxiety and unfulfillment. At the same time, thinking about our thinking and observing our observations can bring us a new world in which work becomes a place for innovation, and in which peace, wisdom, friendship, companionship, and community can exist. Let us design this world together.”

~Carlos Fernando Flores Labra

In the bewitched aviary–The sonnet according to Mr. Shakespeare

A Poem by Pawel Markiewicz

Helots muse about moony Golden Fleece of the condor.
Drudges think of the dreamy eternal dew of the hen.
Philosophers ponder on winged fantasy of the crow.
Kings ruminate on a picturesque gold of the jay.

Priests contemplate the dreamed, soft, meek weird of the woodpecker.
Masters daydream about nice marvelous songs of the tern.
Soothsayers dream of fulfilled gold of the yellowhammer.
Knights philosophize about poetic dawn of the wren.

Hoplites fantasize about a red sky of the sparrow.
Athletes describe the most tender treasure-charm of the snipe.
Gods remember an enchanted, dear temple of the seagull.
Goddesses recall fairytale-like heroes of the kite.

Poets commemorate the elves-like heaven of the owl.
Bards reflect on most amazing dreamery of the rook.

Blackbirds

A Poem by Donal Mahoney

A moment ago,
in a flicker of pique,
with a wave of the hand,
I dispersed them.

Glorious birds,
now they are back,
gold talons wrapped,
roosting.

Glorious birds,
high on a wire,
spearing the nits
in their feathers.

WAR VRS. BEAUTY

A Poem by Michael H. Brownstein

Let us say the colorful hummingbird symbolizes peace.
Let us say the two legged giant with weak arms is the gray of cruelty–
The hummingbird swift and agile, a glitter of texture;
the giant clumsy and slow, the creator of tools of destruction.
Let us say they meet in the field of wild flowers blossoming.
After the fires fade, only a thick fog of death remains.
Let us say the hummingbird tries to symbolizes peace.
Let us say the giant with weak arms tries to be the master of extinction.
The field will regain itself, flowers will bloom, hummingbirds will sing.
their soft whisper of a song: I do this work for you,
two legged giant with weak arms, so you will have many fields
colored with beauty and sweet perfumes to scent the air.

A  Sermon from Yun-Man in the Collected Sermons of Wa-men-kaun.

Yun-man said, “The world is vast and wide; why do you put on a seven-fold robe at the sound of the bell?”

(Editor’s note: This is the entire sermon. After he said these words, he took his seat.)

A BREATH OF FORTITUDE

A Poem by Michael H. Brownstrein

–based on an image by artist Vony Razom who is currently producing art from a bomb shelter in Ukraine

in the madness of the fertile lands,
a red blossom and its red leaves–
and from its seed, red caterpillars
bending into Red admirals, strong
in wing and shape, rugged Vanessas

do not mistaken fractures in the sea
for weakness of the heart, soul sickness–
she knows the beauty of self and water

from her place on the shore of power,
a current: she flips into the air, sails
within the wind, reflects on strength
and courage–sometimes a butterfly
becomes human and changes the world.

NOW

A Poem by Michael H. Brownstein

if radiant energy
if the prism with well-lit blossoms
if a tambourine sparks the scent of orange-blue

walk with me through the forest of log cabins
near the path of the river of gold
into the cave where diamonds echo vibrations of taste

this could be a maybe
this could be a possibility
this could be the silent laughter

in the end what if
if could be anything else
but the if it allows itself to be