Dedicated to my mother
Copyright © 2017 by Michael Stone
All rights reserved
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Raanana, December 9, 2017
In this small sliver of a country
Where we call our hills mountains
Our history future
And our dreams reality,
The sun creeps slowly up the eastern hills
At dawn and sets the sleeping skies alight.
When winter forgets to rain long days
The sun’s fires are too far to warm our hands
But the light is so heavy you can barely carry it
Against your chest, let alone your eyelids.
The rain, when it does finally come,
Becomes a celebration of snails
Silver-tracking the sidewalks
As though they were all that were here
But soon they are a celebration of birds and cats
Leaving only broken spiral shells.
At night dreams fly around like bats
Felt but never seen,
And promises are sometimes touched
Like two lovers
Like a finger against one’s lips.
Raanana, December 15, 2017
If I were as rich and handsome as God
I’d make you a constellation
In the starry sky and
Instead of stars, it’d be made of universes.
Everyone would look up and say
Your name and how lovely it is
And they’d look to you to guide them
Home to their loved ones
Wherever they were
As your face guides me home through the night.
You’d be a Goddess too,
I’d never be jealous,
But we wouldn’t sit all day on our thrones
Listening to everything’s prayers.
We’d go for walks in the woods
Meandering like the creek the follows us
Like a faithful dog. We’d have
Lao Tzu or Bodhisattva in our bellies
Warm with laughter.
We’d spend the rest of our time
Just imagining what we couldn’t create
But would be nice if it were
Like everything else does.
Raanana, December 16, 2017
When I think of the
Seasons of our galaxy,
We live as mayflies.
Raanana, December 20, 2017
When I was a young kid
I don’t remember being grateful for much
If anything at all.
It’s just that everything is given to you
Or you’re given nothing whatsoever
But you don’t know the cost of it
Or whom to thank.
Besides, when you are young
You’re going to live forever
And there’s lots of time to tell
Others what you think
If you thought about it at all.
Now, in the weakening light
Of the autumn dusk,
After the pruning of future possibilities,
I sit on a bench near a useless sundial
Daisy’s massive head and front legs folded
In my lap and me stroking her velvet skull
And flicking away the occasional fly
In a kind of meditation on how many white hairs
Have replaced the black and brown hairs on her jowls,
And that is a gratitude of sorts, I suppose.
Then I got to thinking about the other things
For which I’m grateful, like yesterday,
Sitting on the floor next to my little granddaughter
Watching animals sing songs in children’s voices,
Our backs against the sofa, her leaning against me
The smell of her hair, soft and warm,
And the other evening my wife and I watched a movie,
I don’t remember which, but afterward,
After they’d scrolled through the credits,
They showed a distant mountain with a large moon behind it
And at the top of the mountain, a coyote baying.
For some unknown reason, my wife and I both decided
The coyote was a dog and, whenever they’d show this,
I’d see my wife’s eyes well up with tears
And I’d reach for her hand and ask
Who else but me, in the whole wide world,
Would know what you’re thinking
And think it too?
For these things, I am grateful to have lived long enough
To finally feel them. They may not be much of a pinnacle,
But they are the pinnacle of my existence.
Raanana, December 23, 2017
Death, after a full life, is not so fearsome.
It’s like a kind of meditation,
A relaxation from the tensions of living and dying,
A clarity that sees illusions, but also through them,
A detachment from pain and desire
In which the subject and object disappear together
And all that is left is invisible and silent.
Death is not a thing that stalks you,
That finds you where you hide,
It’s not a thing you can hold in your hand,
Thumbs up or thumbs down,
But the end of a life that never was forever,
That proffers bitter-sweet meaning
To those who accept it
On its threshold.
Raanana, December 26, 2017
This is your trusted reporter
coming to you from a little planet
whirling around a midsize star
in the withered arm of a distant galaxy.
I’m sitting here on a wooden bench
witness to the strangest forms
you’d hope to see, not based on
discernable intelligent design,
integrated circuits or metallic mechanism.
Some have hard exoskeletons and some
are sacks of bones and soft organelles
with two holes, one ingesting all manner of things
and the other gushing excrement.
Not far from where I’m sitting is
a rather tall thin sack of bones sitting on a bench
while another sack of bones lies on the ground beside him.
Near him, a smaller sack of bones walks around
pecking here and there, then jumping in the air
and coming down somewhere else to walk and peck.
I sit on a bench near the sundial resting a little
with my beloved Daisy lying at my feet
before we move on.
I chance to see a small grey bird walking near us,
pecking here and there,
most probably for small bugs and occasional worms,
but Daisy seems mostly uninterested.
There’s a gentleman on another bench
who seems to talk to himself in a tongue I’ve never heard.
For some reason unknown to me, I wondered whether
Robby the Bard of Ayrshire was right after all
about the gift of seeing ourselves as others see us.
I’m not so sure I’d even like to see myself
as I see me.
Raanana, December 29, 2017
A group of young men stood by
A young woman struggling to rise
From the ground, clutching buttonless blouse,
Dress torn from bruised body.
The men had blank looks on their sated faces.
A common enough story of evil’s banality,
There are too many others, to be sure.
A poet stood before them and said,
You have the power.
Power thinks it is stronger than beauty
So it can have it for itself,
But it cannot.
Beauty only gives itself to beauty
And to love.
Power can only protect beauty
Or destroy it.
He offered his hand to the woman and said,
You have the beauty.
Beauty is fragile but fragility
Conquered ten thousand ships
And many more hearts,
Because love makes us all fragile.
If this were a poem, it would end with the last line,
But evil bows the heads of its minions
And justifies its acts so it can
Hide in plain sight.
The men beat the poet to death
And hung his thin corpse from a nearby tree.
This is life, not poetry.
Raanana, January 4, 2018
To each of us God grants a world and time
That when we waken in the morning
We are Adam and we are Eve in Eden
Knowing nothing, but naming everything,
The animals, the trees and plants, the sky-born stars
And each other.
While we live, we live forever,
When we love, there only is the other,
For that is how we live and love.
We create the God who has created us
And He is jealous, smelling our compulsion to create,
Striking us down like bolts of lightning
When we would create ourselves.
When we kill, we are Cain and we are Abel,
We hide from ourselves, though we cannot and
We are dead and we are doomed to
Walk this earth forsaken by us
Yes, and what about our freedom?
God granted us our freedom, but
The demons hid it in the constellations
For us to lose our sanity searching for it
In the desert night.
Raanana, January 6, 2018
The spirit and the body live symbiotically,
Though neither needs the other,
They both enrich each other.
The body imagines the spirit
Upon which the spirit incorporates the body
With its traits of goodness and beauty
And they grow by consuming each other,
Though neither is lessened in doing so.
The spirit sees all things, but not the individual,
The body sees only the particular and not the allthing.
The spirit can see forever, but knows not the time of day,
The body knows this moment, but not what was or what will.
Together, they are God and the universe.
Because of them, there are acts of God
And the day-to-day happenings of the world.
Raanana, January 6, 2018
Rainwashed and sundazzled
A day as fresh as any you’ll ever find.
Walking Daisy in the promised land,
America still sleeps snugly under night.
Here you’re just as likely to meet God as anyone else
Along the tree-arched paths
(Just be careful not to look Him in the eyes).
The cats in the courtyard form a minion
For their murmured prayers in the silent warmth
And I ask no one in particular
Who needs all the synagogues,
Churches and cathedrals?
Raanana, January 10, 2018
A multiplication table,
Two times two is four,
She could read a multiplication table
And you’d swear it was poetry
But when she’d read you her own poem
It’d sound like her skin was torn from her soul,
Like she’d invented meaning in your mind.
She was a visitor,
She didn’t come from here.
Raanana, January 12, 2018
On days like these with a high-noon sun
Shining on a little courtyard,
The bougainvillea silent for lack of breeze,
I wonder whether David, the shepherd king,
Considered the possibility I’d be sitting here
Sipping from a cup of coffee, daydreaming
Of his pasture not so far from me
And lambs long gone, their progeny roaming
The barren hills of Ein Gedi
And his dreams of a city of peace
For all who hold its rocky paths holy.
What would he have thought of all the blood spilt
In its name by those who would own it?
Raanana, January 14, 2018
What did you witness today?
Was it exceptional or was it like every other day?
What was it about the day you found exceptional?
Would you have preferred it last forever or
Would you have preferred it never were?
Was it lovely beyond words or
Was the pain more than you could take?
Did you want to die?
Was there a tree involved?
What kind of tree? Tall or scraggly? Straight or bent?
Did heavy succulent fruit hang from it or
A man who had no use for life anymore?
Was it day or night?
Were there clouds in the sky?
Did it rain? Were the drops lugubrious?
Were there men and women walking slowly in the street?
Was it a dirge or threnody?
Were there many animals too?
Were they ferocious or
Were they lapdogs?
What about the birds? Did they sing or were they eagles?
Was there a single flower or a field full of flowers?
What kind of flower?
What kind of flower?
Raanana, January 15, 2018
Silence looks clear.
Silence feels lonely.
Silence tastes watery.
Silence smells fresh.
Warmth looks mauve.
Warmth sounds like a bow drawn across cello strings.
Warmth tastes like spice wine.
Warmth smells like your mother’s perfume.
Naked sounds true.
Naked feels both vulnerable and voluptuous.
Naked tastes bitter-sweet.
Naked smells like ginkgo trees during Autumn.
An orange looks like it’s about to burst.
An orange sounds shrill like a shakuhachi.
An orange feels precise and pointillistic.
An orange smells like a childhood memory.
Her hair looks thick and flowing.
Her hair sounds like a fugue.
Her hair feels cool between the fingers.
Her hair tastes like almond walnut baklava.
Raanana, January 16, 2018
Hush my heart, be still
God knows how you stay whole
From swelling when those you love are near,
Your eyes see goodness or beauty,
Or ears hear truth,
And ebb when not.
The Muse will come one day
But she will leave the next,
Be wise and hush.