Homeless–Poetry Potluck

Homeless Veteran on the streets of Boston, MA

Image via Wikipedia

Submitted to dVerse OLN. This was previously posted for Poetry Potluck.  As I re-read it, I see there’s work to be done on meter, but I hope the message reaches home. At this time of the year, I’m so aware of homelessness. This morning, walking the dogs along the river, I ran across a couple of homeless men. I understand that they often set up campsites down by the Truckee, under the overpass. Earlier, it was 21 degrees.

 

 

 

Homeless

Walking down the road I saw a man in tattered clothes.
I couldn’t help but wonder what had led to his defeat.
Tell me, if you would, about this life that you have chosen,
or did it choose you to live like this, upon the street?

I handed him a buck or two and said, “Here, take a seat.”
It was a rusted old park bench on which we hunkered in to meet.
You’re curious, my boy, he said, why do you want to know?
I want to understand you, sir, to see what makes you so.

That money that I gave to you, I know you’ll give to others.
I wonder, how do you survive while giving to your brothers?
A smile broke across the wrinkled landscape of his face,
the pain I’d seen inside his eyes seemed suddenly erased.

You may not really want to hear the story I will tell,
it happened many years ago in a place not far from hell.
The name you’ve heard—‘twas Auschwitz, a camp they took us Jews
the horrors that surrounded me tempted me to choose

to take my own life ere they could subject me to a death
without the grace of dignity. I was so eager to go.
But then some words came tumbling from the darkness of my mind
Words spoken by a holy man I heard in years behind.

The teacher’s voice was strong, it traveled straight into the core
of all I understand of God, of what we’re living for.
Do you know how much good can be done in Auschwitz late at night?
How hope can be a gift to those who tremble in their fright?

And what I learned back then—the truths that saved me from despair—
I carry them within my soul, there’s so much need to care.
So I refuse to see my life as a symbol of defeat.
Do you know how much good, my son, awaits me in that street?

The old man stood and shook my hand and left me with his smile
I sat, transfixed, upon that bench for quite a while.
Now I withhold my judgment when I see a homeless guy
and wonder still at wealth within that money cannot buy.

The anecdote related in this poem is derived from a story related by Rabbi Schlomo Carlebach. I read it in “The Oracle of Kabbalah” by Richard Seidman. This book deals with the hidden meaning underlying the Hebrew Aleph Beit.

Leo’s Z to A Challenge: Homeless Man

A homeless man in Paris

Image via Wikipedia

This is submitted to Leonnyes Z to A Challenge:
http://leonnyes.wordpress.com/

The anecdote related in this poem is derived from a story related by Rabbi Schlomo Carlebach. I read it in “The Oracle of Kabbalah” by Richard Seidman. This book deals with the hidden meaning underlying the Hebrew Aleph Beit.

 

 

“H” is for Homeless Man

Walking down the road I saw a man in tattered clothes.
I couldn’t help but wonder what had led to his defeat.
Tell me, if you would, about this life that you have chosen,
or did it choose you to live like this, upon the street?

I handed him a buck or two and said, “Here, take a seat.”
It was a rusted old park bench on which we hunkered in to meet.
You’re curious, my boy, he said, why do you want to know?
I want to understand you, sir, to see what makes you so.

That money that I gave to you, I know you’ll give to others.
I wonder, how do you survive while giving to your brothers?
A smile broke across the wrinkled landscape of his face,
the pain I’d seen inside his eyes seemed suddenly erased.

You may not really want to hear the story I will tell,
it happened many years ago in a place not far from hell.
The name you’ve heard—‘twas Auschwitz, a camp they took us Jews
the horrors that surrounded me tempted me to choose

to take my own life ere they could subject me to a death
without the grace of dignity. I was so eager to go.
But then some words came tumbling from the darkness of my mind
Words spoken by a holy man I heard in gone by.

The teacher’s voice was strong, it traveled straight into the core
of all I understand of God, of what we’re living for.
Do you know how much good can be done in Auschwitz late at night?
How hope can be a gift to those who tremble in their fright?

And what I learned back then—the truths that saved me from despair—
I carry them within my soul, there’s so much need to care.
So I refuse to see my life as a symbol of defeat.
Do you know how much good, my son, awaits me in that street?

The old man stood and shook my hand and left me with his smile
I sat, transfixed, upon that bench for quite a while.
Now I withhold my judgment when I see a homeless guy
and wonder still at wealth within that money cannot buy.

Leonneyes Z to A Challenge—Z is for “Zayin”

Hebrew letter zayin

Image via Wikipedia

Leonneyes is hosting a 26 day poetry challenge: Z to A at http://leonnyes.wordpress.com/

In this challenge we are asked to choose a theme, based on the letters of the alphabet, in reverse order. Today’s letter is Z and the theme I have chosen is “Zayin“–one of the letters of the Hebrew Aleph Beit.

While I am a Christian, I have found the study of the Aleph Beit to be an enriching and prayerful experience. In Hebrew, the word for letter also means sign or wonder. The letters themselves are seen to embody power. Each letter is an archetype, expressing a specific creative energy. The letters lend themselves to prayer–for me, using them as a mantra is a helpful form of meditation. I apologise to my Jewish friends if I misrepresent Zayin.

Zayin
An Acrostic

Zayin–sword, sabbath, time, seven–
Asks us to remember all that’s gone before.
Yield to the moment’s call to recreate ourselves.
Incisiveness, that clarity of vision safeguarding all that’s precious,
Needing to return to inner sabbath, to nourish peace.

Zayin, peaceful warrior.

Sunday 160–“El Shaddai”*

 

Photo: David Slotto

 

Just enough coffee to jump-start the day.
quiet time to remember
why I’m here—
soul nourishment to survive.
Enough goodness to share.
Life enough for learning love.

*In Hebrew, the word Shad means “breast” and Dai means “enough.” El Shaddai is one of the holy names of  God and alludes to the sufficiency of the Divine. Its attribution suggests the feminine aspects of God.

Originally submitted for Monkey Man’s Sunday 160 in which your entry is exactly 160 characters, including spaces. Check it out at http://petzoldspracticalprose.blogspot.com/

Submitted once again for Big Tent Poetry on 12/3/10–this week’s prompt is to write a poem to the theme of “Enough.”  http://bigtentpoetry.org/

Intention–Kavannah–and Writing

Although I am not Jewish, I have found much nourishment in studying spiritual aspects of Judaism, in particular the Hebrew Alphabet (Aleph Beit). Jewish mystics and scholars believe that God used the letters of the Aleph Beit to bring about creation. Consider the power of the Word.

This morning I spent time with the letter Kaph. It means “palm” as in the palm of the hand. There is power in the hand–we raise a hand in blessing, we use our hands in the act of creating, through the hand healers channel their healing energy–think of Jesus, or Reiki Masters. It is intention, kavannah, that enables this power. Kaph is the first letter of kavannah and, as such, invites us to bring intentionality to our daily actions.

A few hours ago I spent some time doing the domestic thing: folding laundry, doing the dishes, a quick “pick up/put away storm” around the house. The idea of kavannah came to mind and, as I was making the bed, I realized that I can do it grudgingly or with grace. Bringing the intention of love to simple chores transforms them–making our home a blessing. It’s true that this is something I learned at an early age, but it’s something I have to continue to strive to remember. It’s so easy to slip into unconsciousness and go through the actions of every day without awareness.

So, we write. How can kavannah/intention affect this part of our life? What happens when, before we put our palms on the keyboard, we remember that we are instruments of God’s creative Spirit?